Erstad: Alex Gordon Facility ‘Best in Country’
Randy York's N-Sider
The Alex Gordon Training Complex was formally dedicated Friday, and the ceremonial ribbon-cutting event gave the indoor practice facility’s two primary tenants a chance to rave about the impact it has on Nebraska’s baseball and softball programs. Husker Softball Coach Rhonda Revelle recalled getting a phone call on a Saturday night and being a bit reluctant to answer a number from one of her players. “Coach,” the student-athlete said. “Everything’s good. I just need to know if we can turn the lights off in the new facility.” Revelle turned around and looked at Darin Erstad, Nebraska’s head baseball coach, while telling the story. “At that moment,” she told Erstad, “I knew how significant this facility would be for both programs.”
Erstad picked up on Revelle’s anecdote and multiplied the enthusiasm. “The whole thing here is recruiting and development,” he said, “so we encourage recruits to go out and compare what others might have across the country against what we have. We have the best baseball/softball facility in the country. I’ll put it up against anybody. It gives me goose bumps just talking about it. I wish you could see when other teams show up here. They walk through the doors and you should see the looks on their faces. ‘What is this? … This is ridiculous!’ You can see their eyes light up, and you really appreciate what you have and how fortunate you are to help with the development of our student-athletes.”
Eichorst: Erstad, Revelle Two of Country’s Best Coaches
Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst kicked off the dedication ceremony, acknowledging how the $4.75 million indoor practice facility “reflects our commitment to baseball and softball” and how the Huskers are blessed to “have two of the best coaches in the country”, both of whom benefit from the vision of his predecessor, Tom Osborne. Eichorst congratulated Gordon on earning a third Gold Glove Award earlier this week to match his summer MLB All-Star status and commended him and wife Jamie for being donors not looking for recognition. “That’s what makes Nebraska so special,” Eichorst said.
Revelle recalled Osborne visiting her office and asking what she needed to be more successful as a head coach. Her answer was as simple as it was quick. “We need an indoor facility where our student-athletes can go 24/7 year-round,” she said, envisioning such a facility as an essential equalizer for Northern schools in terms of recruiting and athletic development. Erstad said the Alex Gordon Training Complex not only helps develop Husker student-athletes, but also helps little kids throughout the community. "You should see how many come through our doors almost every day," he said.
Gordon and Wife Jamie Felt Time Was Right to Give
Gordon said he and Jamie feel “very fortunate” to be UNL graduates and thought the time was right to give back to a school that helped them succeed academically and athletically. “We’re very grateful that our names will be associated with the University of Nebraska for years to come,” Gordon said, recalling how he used an old warehouse to practice indoors when it was snowing outside during his Husker playing days. “I wanted to give a direct gift to the baseball program and Mike Dobbs put all of this together. I didn’t expect anything like this.”
The indoor practice facility was specifically designed for baseball and softball and has 18,000 square feet of climate-controlled practice space that allows student-athletes to work on all phases of their game. The space can be configured to use as many as six spacious batting cages. The cages can be retracted to open up all of the 120-foot by 150-foot space for live game simulation. The entire facility is netted, allowing Husker players to take live batting practice. The field turf surface looks and feels like real grass, and the field includes anchors to lock down bases for use during practices.
Gordons Marvel at Lincoln's Explosive Growth
Like Erstad and Revelle, Alex and Jamie Gordon marvel at Nebraska's commitment to world-class facilities. As much as the Gordons love Kansas City, they decided to build a house in Lincoln. They see their hometown experiencing a downtown renaissance with the new Pinnacle Bank Arena for basketball and concerts, an expanded East Memorial Stadium that pushes capacity past 91,000 and a one-of-a-kind research area that bridges academic-related studies with athletic-related innovation.
Gordon will tailgate with lifelong friends before Saturday's Nebraska-Northwestern game and go inside the stadium to watch the action. The Gordons were asked about the opportunity to be recognized sometime before or during the the nationally televised game. They declined, not because they didn't appreciate the gesture. Like Eichorst indicated in his opening remarks, they're Nebraskans. And like Darin and Jessica Erstad, they didn't donate to be recognized. They contributed to help their alma mater compete at the highest level.
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