The Canes are in the Building
By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Friday was another beautiful sunny day on the Greentree Practice Fields, but the Miami Hurricanes were nowhere to be found.
Instead of spending their morning on Greentree, the Canes practiced for the very first time inside the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility.
“We did it today because we wanted to celebrate the building today, and we have a scrimmage tomorrow and I didn’t want to take a lot out of them,” head coach Mark Richt said. “So that’s why we’re in here today. But from now on, if we’re out there and the [lightning] horn blows…eventually the big doors open up and ‘bam.’ There we go. We’ll use it for sure if the horn blows. We’ll go directly in, won’t change cleats, we won’t do anything [differently]. For the first time in my head coaching career, I don’t have to worry about ‘Plan B.’ This was super fun. And I got a little emotional, too, when it first started. Just seeing Carol [Soffer] loving it. It was awesome. When that horn blows and we come straight in…we’re looking forward to that.”
The state-of-the-art 81,800-square-foot facility features two field-turf fields – one 90 yards long and an additional 30-yard field directly connecting to the Squillante Strength and Conditioning Center. The facility is located on the current football practice grounds and features interconnectivity to both the Hecht Athletic Center and the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.
“To pledge the money that we did for this building, that was two years ago in October and I have been dreaming for two years for this day to come and when it did, it was like the most exciting thing for me to watch these young men run into this indoor practice facility,” Soffer said. “This is a great day for the University of Miami and I believe we have the best indoor practice facility in the nation.”
The players got their first peek at the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility Thursday night, but Friday morning was the first time they actually got to practice in the building and it was an unforgettable experience.
“We actually had a walk-through in here last night, but a walk-through turned into us just throwing balls to each other; the defensive players living out our offensive dreams and stuff like that,” linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said. “We found out last night, came in here this morning to get the work in and I hope we’re in here every day.”
Veterans on the 2018 Hurricanes football team remember when an indoor practice facility was just a dream, so Friday’s practice was especially memorable for them.
“Coming in as a freshman, it wasn’t even really a thought,” offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier said. “When Coach Richt came here, we put it into motion and thanks to Carol Soffer it’s up now. It’s awesome to be able to come here when we can in the A/C for one of these days. It’s a nice recovery, for sure.”
Richt, who is preparing for his third season at the helm of Miami’s football program, knew early in his tenure that the Canes would need to add an indoor practice facility and he was determined to help make that happen.
“There was a plan already beginning to take shape,” Richt said. “Miami was already moving towards an indoor facility. So it wasn’t like all of a sudden I said, ‘Hey, we need one.’ Everybody knew the need. There were [renderings], some drawings. The big change was incorporating the coaches’ offices and the mezzanine level that is now suspended from the rooftop. That was the biggest thing, because I knew our football operation needed a facelift badly. And I knew we needed this. So I’m thinking, I’ve got two projects. Which one? I’ve got to go for the indoor. Truly, one morning, about 2 [o’clock] or 3 [o’clock] in the morning, I woke up and thought maybe we could do both at the same time, make it one project. The thing that really I appreciate the most is Blake James allowing me to spend time with the architects to talk about exactly what we need and how we needed it, let us bounce ideas on how we can do it.”
The project includes a 20,000-square-foot football operations center with a mezzanine level that will house all of the football coaches’ office space with views overlooking the indoor fields. The football center will also feature six position meeting rooms, a head coach’s suite, three coaches’ conference rooms, a first-class football recruiting suite complete with lounges and meeting rooms, as well as a state-of-the-art video center.
“I want to make this real clear: we’re not done with this project,” Richt said. “We’re practicing in it, but we’ve still got a lot of branding to do. We’ve got things to do in the coaches’ offices and the football operations area. We’re not done fundraising for this project, is what I’m saying. We need at least $3 million [more] to make it the way it should be made. I always tell everybody, ‘We got one chance to do it right.’ Let’s do it right the first time, let’s not go cheap on anything. Let’s go first-class on everything – and we have, on every single thing we have done on this building and this project. In order to finish it off right, we still end to fundraise about another $3 million.”
“I knew we needed the indoor facility,” Director of Athletics Blake James said. “I really want to credit Mark for really expanding that vision. What’s left of this project is the football complex and the renovations that we’ll do that will really elevate so many of our other programs from the nutrition center that we’ll have to the new offices for our soccer, volleyball and golf programs in our building. It’s a win across the board, but today’s is truly a great day for our football program.”
Fans can donate to the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility by visiting Give2IPF.com.