More than two years ago the old Roanoke College Bowman Hall dormitory came down, beginning with a ceremony presided over by President Mike Maxey as Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” was played and a construction crane did its part. That was in May 2014; now in its place the 30 million dollar Cregger Center has opened for the fall semester.
Named for alum and major donor Morris Cregger – a four sport athlete in the 60’s at Roanoke College – the Cregger Center features a new gym for basketball, volleyball and other sports; the 2500 seat arena can also hold up to 5000 for special events like concerts and lectures. Across the hallway there is an indoor 200 meter track with six rubberized lanes that will host the ODAC championships next spring and perhaps the Virginia High School League championships as well. The track’s infield has space for field events like shot put and hammer throw and can also accommodate indoor baseball and softball batting cages.
While the ribbon cutting doesn’t take place until October, the new Cregger Center also serves as the academic home for Roanoke College’s health and human performance programs, featuring state of the art labs for those students studying in these fields. It is an impressive facility and new head men’s basketball coach Clay Nunley, who moved over from Lynchburg College, doesn’t think there is anything else like it at the NCAA Division III level.
“I think our players couldn’t be more excited. We’re extremely grateful,” said Nunley during a recent tour. “You can tell someone about it on the phone but they really have to be here to see it with their own eyes, to appreciate all of the amenities and luxuries that it has.” Those perks include locker rooms for varsity teams, a new, expanded fitness center (also open to all students and alums) and a larger training room featuring sunken whirlpool and ice baths.
Nunley called the Cregger Center a “standard bearer” at the D3 level and a facility that has already helped him as a recruiting tool for the basketball program. “You talk about going into a gunfight with a gun – I think we’re going into it with a cannon. There’s a lot to promote about Roanoke College and this is certainly as strong a selling point as any other,” said Nunley, who succeeded long time head coach Page Moir.
“It’s not lost on me and it’s not lost on the players about how fortunate we are … and the generosity of so many to make it possible.” Roanoke College raised the funds privately to build the Cregger Center. The old gym – the Bast Center – remains in place for intramural activities and other uses.
Third year women’s head basketball coach Carla Flaherty also likes the new digs: “No drawing could actually give us the [reality] we are looking at right now. It’s fun to be here … I smile every day I come into the office. It’s great. I haven’t seen a facility like this at any level – especially at division three. We’re walking high caliber student-athletes through this facility.”
First year head track coach Kirk Nauman came down from Minnesota for an interview, toured the Cregger Center under construction – and accepted the position just one week later. “I know if I was [a high school senior] it would be a huge selling point,” said Nauman of the indoor track facility. “It definitely allows you to train like you want to.”
Athletic director Scott Allison, on the job since 1989, said the Cregger Center definitely has that Wow Factor: “On behalf of our students and athletes and coaches, it’s certainly a wow facility.” Allison likes the extensive use of glass that allows natural light to fill the spaces, while also providing scenic views to outside playing fields and the Blue Ridge Mountains. “It’s really impressive. Everything we dreamed of.”
By Gene Marrano