Sports and science go hand-in-hand in new Cole Field House

Published 8/2/17 in The Left Bank

For years, the University of Maryland has buzzing about turning Cole Field House into a new football practice facility. Today, that idea finally came to fruition as phase one of the Cole Field House Performance Center was officially unveiled.

The indoor football field has been completed and now the rest of the building is starting construction after Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony which took place on the brand new turf field.

Once phase two is completed, estimated to be early 2019, Cole Field House will be home to one of the most unique athletic and academic buildings across the country. The new facility will include an indoor football field, two outdoor fields, strength and conditioning facilities, a clinical treatment center in orthopedics and research lab in biomechanics, neuroscience, muscle physiology and neuroscience.

The Field House will be home to everything Maryland football, head football coach D.J. Durkin said. The compound includes an underground locker room with a tunnel connecting to the field and even the team’s dining hall.

Former Maryland head basketball coach and Basketball Hall of Famer Gary Williams was in attendance for today’s ceremony and he thinks this new facility will go a long way for Maryland football since they have to play in the Big Ten. Williams coached in the Big Ten at Ohio State from 1986-1989 before coming to Maryland.

“As a coach, you want a leveled playing field and I know for D.J. Durkin he feels that this levels the playing field, especially with all the power teams in the Big Ten,” Williams said.

This will no doubt help Durkin with recruiting in the coming seasons, even though the Terps already have the No. 17 recruiting class for 2017 and another top 25 class coming in 2018. The new facility has been a large part of recruiting pitches, Durkin said in the past.

“The kids in our area understand now that they’re going to get the best of the best here,” Durkin said. “There’s not, education wise and facility wise, a better place. You don’t have to go anywhere in order to get all you hope and dream of out of your college experience.”

While this will be one of the best football facilities in the country, the medical and research facilities that will go in the new Cole Field House are what will really make this building one of a kind.

Research labs will open in many different concentrations and they won’t just be for the athletes. In these labs, students will research all the different aspects of sports medicine and its future. One of the main focuses of this research will be to transform the way brain injuries are approached in football.

“Our main goal is to transform the way that traumatic brain injuries are studied, approached and treated,” said Elizabeth Quinlan, the Scientific Co-director of the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance and a Biology professor at UMD. “I can say that with confidence because of the strength and diversity of expertise that we’re bringing in.”

Other attendees included UMD President Dr. Wallace Loh, University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay A. Perman, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller Jr., University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert L. Caret and Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland Brit Kirwan.

The building will also be home to the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship where students can creatively solve problems and think outside of the box while still in school.

Cole Field House was home to Maryland basketball for many decades before they moved to the Xfinity Center in 2002 and ever since, Cole has just been sitting in the middle of campus, not being used for anything but intramural games. Now, the building will finally get back to the prominence it had when Texas Western defeated Kentucky to win the 1966 NCAA National Championship in that same building.