Construction crews and machinery still milling about outside, the LSU gymnastics team has begun to practice in its state-of-the-art training facility and now has Feb. 6 as a target date for a grand opening.
LSU coach D-D Breaux said the Saturday afternoon opening seems feasible after conferring with architects and crews still working on the amenities in the building. Preliminary plans are to have the opening just before the LSU basketball team’s 5 p.m. tip off against Mississippi State in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“We haven’t printed the invitations yet,” Breaux said, still cautious. “(But) we think it’s going to be a pretty firm date because they gave us a target date of when we’d be able to be in here, and they hit it right on.”
The team’s first practice in its new facility — a voluntary workout Thursday during final exams week — was a surreal moment for Breaux and assistants Bob Moore and Jay Clark, who were accustomed to the cramped quarters in the Maddox Field House.
Moore, Breaux’s 16-year assistant whom she affectionately calls “Houdini” after coaching vaulters on just one table in the field house, now has three vault tables on which to train his gymnasts.
Clark, a bars specialist, has four sets of uneven bars. And volunteer assistant Ashleigh Clare-Kearney even has her own space, set aside from it all, where she can choreograph floor routines. Four balance beams, a full-size floor and a tumble track also occupy the massive space that’s still getting broken in.
“The equipment is all new, so it’s very tight,” Breaux said. “Very hard, very tight. We’ve been back and forth between this and the old gym to give their legs a little bit of a break.”
Breaux’s even invited the cheerleading squad into the new facility to jump around on the floor in hopes of breaking it in quicker. An intrasquad scrimmage Sunday in preparation for Monday evening’s Gymnastics 101 in the PMAC will test all the equipment.
Still to be completed in the two-story facility is an observation deck, conference rooms, a Tiger Alley between the facility and the PMAC, and a warming kitchen for booster events. Breaux said she’ll have enough room for a 60-person sit down meal.
“It was my expressed desire for this building to look like it had been here 100 years,” Breaux said. “And I think that when you look at the arches in the front, the oak trees around the building and the Tiger Alley that they’re developing on the outside between this building and the PMAC … it’s going to really showcase what a great gymnastics program we’ve been through the years.”