The athletics program at Stanislaus State has seen plenty of success over the years, and improvements to the sports facilities around campus reflect those achievements, from new stadium seating at Warrior Baseball Field to the school’s state-of-the-art soccer field and track. The home of the school’s basketball and volleyball teams, Ed & Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena, is the latest venue to receive a makeover, costing nearly $1 million.
“It was time,” said Interim Director of Athletics Kim Duyst. “The gym still had the original floor from when they first built it, and the bleachers were just getting older. It was long overdue.”
Ed & Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena opened in 1978, and recent upgrades include improvements to the softball and basketball locker rooms in 2011 and 2013, as well as enhancements to the Athletics office in 2014. The university also recently installed air conditioning in the arena, and the volleyball team’s locker room has received upgrades, too.
Funded completely by generous donors, the newest gym renovation consists of new maple flooring and eye-catching bleachers that read “Stan State” on the seats. On the lower half of the west side bleachers, seats with comfortable backs were installed, and the walls of the gym were painted a fresh, bright white.
Duyst hopes that the gym’s new, modern look and flooring, which also has a fresh Stanislaus State logo and crisp new lines painted onto the court, will not only enhance Warrior athletes’ play by helping the balls bounce more efficiently, but also boost the morale of teams that call the arena home.
“When you have a great facility, it makes a big difference,” said Duyst, pointing out the recent accomplishments of the university’s baseball and soccer teams following their playing fields’ improvements. “It’s exciting for the athletes. They come in now and say, ‘Wow’ – especially those that are returning players.”
There are smaller, less noticeable details included in the renovation, too, that will help Warrior athletes enhance their play, like the speed and agility ladders painted onto the gym floor on the south side of the arena, and a reduction of the number of court lines to make gameplay more concise.
Women’s Basketball coach Wayman Strickland is excited to watch his team play on a fresh, new surface, he said.
“It’s a great athletic environment for not only student athletes, but the student body, and I hope it continues to help out our athletic programs,” said Strickland. “Much like the university, our athletics continue to shine and this shows that we’re not just a ‘hidden gem’ anymore.”
While the gym is of course geared toward Stanislaus State athletes, Ed & Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena is also used for a variety of campus events and kinesiology classes, meaning every student at the school is able to benefit from the renovations. The annual crab feed hosted by the Athletics Department is held in the gym, homecoming activities light up the arena during basketball season and from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on weekdays, classes like yoga, badminton and judo keep students busy on the gym floor.
Stanislaus State’s largest incoming freshman class ever was the first to set foot in the gym on Monday at Freshman Convocation, and Duyst said that all 1,438 students were in awe of their new school’s arena.
“That’s what you want, students walking in and saying, ‘Wow, this is nice,” said Duyst. “We take pride in it and want our students to take pride in it, so hopefully that will bring them to our games and they will want to be a part of that excitement.”
Also new at the arena are improvements to its lobby area, where before, a Wall of Fame highlighting some of Stanislaus State’s best athletes and All-Americans adorned the east hallway. Now, an interactive touch screen allows guests to search for and find those honored by the school as fame-worthy with the touch of a finger, and schedules for the university’s athletic teams are also available. The former Wall of Fame is now home to classic pictures of Warrior athletes throughout the school’s history.
Duyst hopes that the improvements to the gym will not only draw more crowds to games, but to the overall campus as well.
“We really want to get people here on campus and see how great it is and the facilities we have,” she said. “Parents and their kids at sports camps or at games will see this and it will hopefully entice students to come here in the future, whether they’re athletes or not.”