2006-10-19 / Sports

Quite a site

By Stephen Dorman sdorman@theacorn.com

CLU to dedicate Gilbert Sports and

'WOW' IS THE WORD-Workers clean the hardwood floor at California Lutheran University's Gilbert Arena late Monday afternoon. On Saturday morning, CLU will dedicate the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center, an $18 million state-of-the-art facility that opened its doors in late July. The 1,500-seat Gilbert Arena can hold a capacity crowd of 2,441 fans and features an in-house audiovisual room for podcasts. 'WOW' IS THE WORD-Workers clean the hardwood floor at California Lutheran University's Gilbert Arena late Monday afternoon. On Saturday morning, CLU will dedicate the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center, an $18 million state-of-the-art facility that opened its doors in late July. The 1,500-seat Gilbert Arena can hold a capacity crowd of 2,441 fans and features an in-house audiovisual room for podcasts. Fitness Center Saturday at 11 a.m.

Stephen Wheatly toed the freethrow line with a onceinalifetime opportunity at stake.

The ink had just dried on the new Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center's occupancy permit and Wheatly, California Lutheran University's vice president of advancement, was about to hoist up the first shot in the history of the state-of-the-art gymnasium.

"I said, standing at the freethrow line, that this is for everybody that's come before us, everybody that made it happen and everybody in the future that's going to have the opportunity to use it," Wheatly said.

"And I made that shot-nothing but net. They have it on film," he said. "The sports information director was there, the athletic director was there, the basketball coach was there. The whole thing was special."

Shortly after Wheatly's shot went through the net two and a half months ago, CLU opened the doors at the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center.

The facility, a 96,000square-foot, two-story complex, is home to the 1,500-seat Gilbert Arena, the Lundring Events Center, Forrest Fitness Center, Soiland Recreation Center, a dance studio and a sports medicine facility, the CLU Alumni Association Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame, classrooms, labs and offices.

"It's a great addition to the school," said freshman Trevin Kent, 19, from Monterey, Calif. "It helps the various sports teams and gives them all a better place where they can come and work out."

According to Ryan Van Ommeren, CLU's associate vice president of facilities and operations, the university hired a design company in 2002 to begin the project. Cal Lutheran obtained building permits the following year and construction began in 2004.

"It's a very large building for CLU. It's twice as large as any building we have on campus," Van Ommeren said. "Its size alone, for people on campus, is really something to see."

Of course, the $18 million project would've never been completed without the assistance of numerous financial donors, notably Camarillo residents Jack and Carol Gilbert. Jack Gilbert is chairman of the board of TOLD Corp., a real estate development company.

The Gilberts initially contributed $2 million to start the project, said Wheatly. They later contributed two separate $1 million donations to bring their total pledge o $4 million.

"We knew what we had to

aise, we just didn't know how

ong it would take us," Wheatly said. "Fortunately for us, Jack Gilbert was generous not once, not twice, but three times, and that made this place a reality."

Wheatly said about 1,400 donors contributed to the facility.

"It was a crosssection of constituencies that support the university," he said. "Alumni were very generous . . . students contributed. Parents contributed. Community members contributed and faculty members came together."

Since opening its doors last summer, the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center has been available or use by CLU students, athletes,

aculty and staff members.

Katie Foster, a 19-year-old sophomore from Reno, Nev., was in the workout facility Monday afternoon rehabbing an injury so she can rejoin the swim team.

S u r rounded by s p a r k l i n g weight machines, new free weights and an upstairs cardiovascular area that features four plasma televisions, Foster said the upgrade from the old training center to the new one has been amazing.

"Last year we had nothing," Foster said. "This is a big improvement. It's very nice. It's huge and will attract a lot more people, for sure."

CLU's women's swim team currently practices at Oaks Christian School. But as part of the redevelopment of the university's sports facilities, including Ullman Stadium for baseball, CLU is building the Samuelson Aquatics Center adjacent to the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center.

The Samuelson Aquatics Center could open by January.

"It's an Olympic-size pool," Foster said. "They're also eventually going to build a smaller warm-up pool right next to it. That's going to be real nice."

There are a pair of large basketball courts in the new facility. The main gym, with the capacity for 2,441, features three fulllength courts, two electronic scoreboards, retractable bleachers and an audiovisual booth for videotaping and podcasts.

When athletes need treatment for injuries, they can visit the sports and medicine facility on the first floor. The room is equipped with a handful of therapeutic ultrasound machines and four hot tubs.

Cody Owens, a graduate assistant, said that during the season at least 100 athletes will visit the medical room in a day.

"The equipment we have and the facilities we have are making it easier to treat the amount of athletes we have," Owens said. "It's getting people to come to this school. With the old training room and old facilities, people might not have wanted to come here. But now, just look at it."

On Saturday morning at 11 a.m., Cal Lutheran will officially dedicate the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center.

Ed Arnold, a longtime broadcaster, will emcee the hourlong event. Cheryl Miller, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Jacquelynne Fontaine, the current Miss California and a 2004 CLU graduate, will speak.

Admission is free and tours will be given.

After the ceremony there will be a lunch at Buth Park, followed by CLU's homecoming football game against Chapman at 1 p.m.

"This has been a dream for 45 years," Wheatly said. "It's fun to finally make it a reality."

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