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With the upcoming completion of the Walter Fieldhouse construction, the Ohio Bobcats football team has moved indoors for spring training. (Emily Harger | Staff Photographer)

Players are eager to put the new fieldhouse to use for practices

Building an indoor practice facility was not Ohio football coach Frank Solich’s first priority when he accepted his current position, but it was certainly on his list.

Nine seasons later, an indoor turf surface is now a reality for the football team and its varsity athletics counterparts. The football team began its spring practice season inside the nearly-finished $13 million Walter Fieldhouse on Monday morning.

“Spring ball is an important time for us to get really good practice in,” Solich said. “We only get 15. So weather-wise, especially in the morning, we want to make sure that we’re able to utilize this and get 15 good practices in. It will pay off a great deal during the season. It’s really a great facility, and I think it was done right.”

The Bobcats will practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — save one Saturday replacement — during each of the next four weeks. The spring schedule will conclude with the annual Green and White scrimmage on April 12, played at Peden Stadium.

But the spring isn’t the only part of the offseason the new facility will provide a big help in. Solich said it will also provide quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs a winter training ground where they can fine tune their technique.

“One of the biggest things that will come into play for us this year will be our winter conditioning program,” Solich said. “In the offseason, it’ll give our players a chance to throw and catch on their own, so there’s continual development. The quarterbacks show up to spring and aren’t able to throw the ball as well because they just haven’t had the chance to because of weather, something that always put us behind teams with an indoor facility.”

While the coaches view Walter Fieldhouse as an important upgrade to the program, the players see it as a dream come true. Many, like redshirt senior safety Thad Ingol, were all smiles at the end of their first day inside the new facility.

“When I was a freshman, they told me we were going to get an indoor facility,” Ingol said, “and when I would repeat that to the older guys, they would say, ‘Yeah, they told us that too.’ So now to see it go up is like a dream. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put it to good use.”

The fieldhouse isn’t scheduled to be open for widespread student use until the fall despite the $822,000 in student fees that are financing the facility during this academic year, according to a previous Post article. 

There is still some construction ongoing inside and out, but it has been mostly put on hold until after the conclusion of Athletics’ spring practice season. Ingol said he doesn’t view the early-access period as preferential treatment for student-athletes.

“It’s not really what we had coming to us, but I just feel like we deserve it,” Ingol said. “We’ve made it into the bowl season the past couple years, we’ve practiced outside in the cold. It’s about time we got to practice indoors.”


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