By Cindy Carroll
It puts the “wow” in a workout! A new dream facility where athletes from UT Chattanooga come to practice has got it all.
It’s outfitted with a strength and conditioning center, a dedicated basketball practice facility, meeting and film rooms, and state-of-the-art athletic equipment. And the woman whose name is on the Brenda Lawson Student–Athlete Success Center sees this facility as the launching pad for much more.
“I truly feel that athletics is an important element in the overall education experience, in the making of a well-rounded student,” says Lawson, chief executive officer of Brenda Lawson & Associates LLC. “Hopefully, this center will produce many generations of leaders.”
Opened in spring semester 2009, the center made an immediate impact on the UTC athletics program, according to Rick Hart, director of athletics.
“It’s a first-class facility that’s on a par with any other in the country. Our basketball programs now have a permanent place to practice in the Chattem Basketball Practice Facility, while all of our student–athletes use the Wolford Family Strength and Conditioning Center. We’re very thankful to the UTC alumni and supporters who made this possible, especially Brenda Lawson, Zan Guerry, and Bucky Wolford,” Hart says.
The Wolford Center features nearly every type of weight-training equipment necessary to help UTC student–athletes perform at the highest level.
“On several occasions, various coaching staffs in different athletic programs have told me UTC was not able to compete as well as its peers in the Southern Conference in recruiting student–athletes. I wanted to help close that gap,” says Bucky Wolford, president and CEO of Wolford Development Inc. and UTC Distinguished Alumnus. “I played football at UTC. The university has done so much for me, and this was a way for me to help. This was a way to help recruit players and effectively make UTC more competitive.”
Unique to the facility is a three-lane indoor track, 43 yards long. The track allows for agility- and speed-training and serves as a warm-up area inside the weight room. The facility also contains a variety of cardio and rehab equipment for the exclusive use of UTC student–athletes.
The Chattem Basketball Practice Facility contains a full practice court that is an exact replica of the Mocs’ main court in McKenzie Arena. Also included in the practice facility are four extra practice goals.
“Both the men’s and women’s programs have great track records at Southern Conference Championships, as well as NCAA play, and I would hope that both programs could continue that and perhaps even go further in the NCAA tournament,” says Zan Guerry, chief executive officer of Chattem.
Wolford says the Brenda Lawson Student–Athlete Success Center fits nicely into the transformed landscape of UTC.
“UTC has a beautiful engineering building, beautiful housing, and the new library is coming. The strength and conditioning center for our student athletes also improves our campus that has changed so much and shows so well,” Wolford says.
After their playing days at UTC are over, Lawson encourages UTC student–athletes to act upon the lessons learned in the classroom and on the playing field.
“It is my sincere hope that these athletes, the business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future, will benefit from this center, and when they become successful, I hope they will feel compelled to give back to UTC and keep this tradition alive,” Lawson says.