By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — When Oklahoma State was given the key to the newly completed Sherman E. Smith Training Center in June, it didn’t take long for the facility to get its first use.
No, it had nothing to do with the Cowboy football program — which will be the biggest beneficiary of the new monstrosity which houses a turf football field. Instead, the practice facility was used by several other OSU programs that will also benefit from the new addition to the Stillwater campus.
With severe storms popping up throughout the summer, it forced several youth camps hosted by Oklahoma State teams to move inside for safety.
The first use of the facility was presented to the Cowboy baseball program, which relocated its nearly 100 campers across the street from Allie P. Reynolds Stadium to the 92,000 square foot building.
“It’s an amazing facility and going to be great for the athletes of Oklahoma State,” OSU baseball coach Josh Holliday said at the time. “... It’s an absolutely amazing building and it’s going to benefit a lot of athletes for a long time.”
The Sherman E. Smith Training Center also served as a safe haven for the Cowgirl soccer youth camp during the recent storms in Stillwater.
“We got to take the campers inside one evening it was raining really hard and you should have seen their faces — it was jaw-dropping for a lot of those young kids to be in there,” Oklahoma State soccer coach Colin Carmichael said.
While area youth were the first athletes to play on the new turf field at the indoor building, it’s obvious that the new facility will go beyond just benefiting the Cowboy football program.
“We would have the ability to play a 11 v. 11 scrimmage if we elected to, inside, which we’ve never had before,” Carmichael said. “It’s just hugely beneficial for us that if a storm rolls through we can still have practice. In years past, we had to send the kids in for a weight workout or for conditioning or just send them home. It’s just a huge bonus for us to be able to move our team indoor and still have a full team practice if we can’t get out on our game field.”
Though the indoor facility is centrally located to benefit football and baseball, Carmichael has no problem with its location when it comes to soccer — whose field is several blocks down the road on Hall of Fame Avenue.
The anticipation of practicing in the new $19 million building funded by donations is high for Carmichael and his Cowgirls. While the team does not report until August, several of the players helped with the youth camp and got the chance to step inside.
“The athletes that were working our camp got in there and they were saying things like, ‘We can’t wait for the first day of storms so we can get into it and test it out,’” the Cowgirl soccer coach said. “So our girls are pretty excited about it.”
As for prospective Cowboys and Cowgirls, Carmichael said the facility will now be toward the top of the list when recruits come to Stillwater for campus visits.
“It’s definitely going to be on our required tour list for all the recruits because it’s pretty impressive when you walk into it for the first time,” Carmichael said. “It’s only going to help us when you bring athletes on campus, they’re going to know that they are working in some of the best facilities in the country and definitely adds a legitimacy to our program.”
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor at the Stillwater NewsPress