Space to Celebrate
March 7, 2022
For the past decade, UNC's 400 student-athletes have been training in a 3,800-square-foot space near the main basketball courts in Bank of Colorado Arena at Butler-Hancock Athletic Center.
Now it’s a whole new ballgame, thanks to the generous support of donors to the newly built Empower Center.
Student-athletes, donors and university staff celebrated the facility’s opening with a ribbon cutting and tour on February 24. As athletes entered the building for the first time, they reacted with excitement and gratitude.
“It was really cool just walking in. We just finished practice,” said KJ Ince, a senior Volleyball player. “I’ve been waiting on this for a long time… it was really exciting to see it all finished.”
Above: Watch highlights from the Feb. 24 Empower Center ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Empower Center is more than two-and-a-half times the size of the previous training facility and allows sports performance staff to coordinate workouts in larger groups and adjust schedules to fit each student-athlete's academic, practice and competition needs.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said UNC President Andy Feinstein at the ribbon cutting. “This is the first fully donor-funded facility ever in the 130-year history of this campus.”
The facility offers a spacious weight room featuring 15 weight racks, expanded free weights, designated areas for warming up and rehabbing and a med ball wall. The higher ceilings make a crucial difference for taller athletes who couldn't do an overhead press in the previous space. The building also features indoor/outdoor access to practice fields and a cardiovascular training space, offices for the sports performance staff, increased storage, an enhanced nutrition station to fuel student-athletes and expansion-friendly design.
"We are excited to welcome our student-athletes into the Empower Center. This is an exciting time for them and our Athletic Department," Director of Athletics Darren Dunn said. "Our goal is to 'Build Champions for Life'. The addition of the Empower Center is another tool to help reach that goal. The Empower Center would not be possible without our great donors who generously gave to turn the vision into reality. We are very grateful for them and their support of UNC Athletics."
Students started workouts in the facility February 28.
“Having a state-of-the-art facility is huge, especially as a collegiate athlete being at a Division 1 school. You definitely want to showcase how we’re going to be working… I love it. We can’t even tell you enough how thankful we are,” said Kassidy Woods, a junior UNC Football student-athlete.
Lead donors John ’84 and Angela ‘89 Schmidt, who selected the name for the facility, were on-hand for the ribbon cutting and had the opportunity to see the athletes’ reactions. “The student athletes deserve this center. They seriously deserve this center,” said John.
Experience the Empower Center In-Person
Participants in the 14th Annual Women's Walk will have an opportunity to visit the new Empower Center in-person on April 9. Register online to join the event.