Courtesy of Jay Carter

After three years of planning and construction, the Sprint Football team held a ceremony presenting their new locker room.

April 19, 2023

Sprint Football Team Kicks Off New Locker Room

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Cornell’s sprint football team held a ceremony on March 31 to celebrate the unveiling of their new locker rooms. After three years of planning, the team is set to use the locker rooms in the fall. 

The idea behind the project began in March 2020 — right before the COVID-19 pandemic — which allowed months of brainstorming to come up with an economical solution. 

Coaches Jay Carter and Willie Evans led a project team tasked with determining the best course of action to build the locker rooms. They determined the locker rooms should be built separately and then shipped to Cornell. After nearly two years of planning, the design was approved by Ithaca City Planning Board in 2022.

“The team now finally has a place to call theirs,” said associate head coach Bob Gneo. 

The locker rooms are located behind the Crescent of Schoellkopf Field, providing sprint football with their own space to prepare for games, watch film and receive medical attention. Carter discussed how the building of this facility has benefited multiple aspects of Cornell athletics. 

“By creating a new locker room for sprint football, it freed up our old locker room for women’s lacrosse,” Carter said. “In turn, this allowed for more space in Lynah Rink for both men’s and women’s ice hockey. It’s part of an overall athletic department plan to accommodate multiple teams. This was a tremendous win for every sport.” 

In addition to the multiple-team benefit, the locker room has also allowed for further development of the sprint football team. Gneo explained how the lack of common space this past season affected the team’s performance. 

“When we don’t have a standard size locker room, it’s difficult to have team bonding,” Gneo said. “No one shows up an hour early to spend time together. Before we moved, you would walk in the locker room at any point during the day and there would be a group of players watching TV, studying or just hanging out. When you play on a football team, it is imperative to have that comradery.” 

One of the most unique parts of this project, however, is that it was completely funded by sprint football alumni

“Bob Cullen was head coach from 1957 to 1978, and he had a vision that lightweight football would need to become completely self-funded,” Carter said. “In 1977, we created the Robert Cullen Endowment Fund for the development of sprint football. Today it is one of fifteen named endowments for the program. I think that everyone associated with sprint football is very proud to say that since the mid-1990s, we have been completely self-funded.”

Alumni have consistently been an integral part of the Cornell sprint football program. In addition to fundraising events such as Giving Day, the program hosts an annual alumni weekend in September. This allows the alumni to remain connected to the program and aid the team in taking on new projects, such as the locker rooms. 

Captain Will Anderson ’24 discussed how the team’s relationship with their alumni adds a tremendous amount of value to the program. 

“Our alumni are our program, and I’d say more so than other teams on our campus,” Anderson said. “We always tell new players that it’s not a four year commitment, but a fifty year one. For our alumni to make this kind of investment in us and the future of the program reminds us that there are hundreds of players that came before us that will always have our backs.” 

The new locker rooms not only benefit the players, but also help the coaches and staff in running an efficient team. 

“Before, we would need to share our film space with many other teams, which resulted in either having to cut our film practices short, or even cancel them altogether,” Gneo said. “Now, we have a standard meeting place at a set time, which allows the coaches to create discipline and organization.” 

Similarly, Anderson said he is looking forward to the new locker rooms next season as a way for the team to have a constant space to call their own and to bond more as a team. 

“I think that having our own central place to go to during the day will bring back a piece of our identity that’s been missing,” Anderson said. “A lot of my favorite memories with the team are in our old locker room, and I’m excited to make new ones in our space.”