Union College took a step closer to making the Athletic Enhancement Project a reality as it broke ground on the Dan L. Sullivan Indoor Training Facility Monday.
The indoor facility is the first of three phases of the Athletic Enhancement Project and is being named in honor of Sullivan. A 1957 graduate, Sullivan is a member of the Union Athletic Hall of Fame and is a long-time donor and friend of the school and baseball program.
“It’s only because Union College has such great friends and supporters that we can do things like this. And this will serve to benefit all the students,” said Union President Marcia Hawkins. “We thank you again for getting this project started, Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan.”
The indoor training facility will benefit not only the baseball and softball programs, but all of the Union athletic programs will be able to use it as well. The facility will house two indoor batting cages with retractable netting and a mound. A large portion of the building will be turfed and contain a classroom to be utilized for meetings and video training sessions.
“For me as a coach, I am so proud of our baseball facility. This facility is just going to be the next step in continuing to maintain not only the best facilities in the state but also in the NAIA,” said Union Baseball Coach Bart Osborne.
“This facility is going to really enhance our program and the softball program because we are going to be able to develop our players more,” the Bulldog coach added. “No matter the weather, no matter the time of year, our kids are going to be able to come in and work on developing their pitching and hitting.”
Osborne was quick to mention the indoor training facility is to benefit not only Union but also the Barbourville and Knox County communities.
“It’s a goal of mine to try to develop our sports – baseball and softball; as much as we can in our community,” Osborne elaborated. “This building is going to allow us to run clinics and camps in the winter, but will allow the all-star teams, travel teams and rec league teams to have access to our building at any time of the year, especially in the summer. If there’s a kid in the community who wants to develop his or her skill and ability, we’re going to do everything we can to get them in here.”
Once the indoor training facility is completed, Union will turn its attention on the next two phases of the Athletic Enhancement Project – the installation of lights at the baseball and softball fields and in-ground dugouts at Jerry W. Carey Stadium at Colonel Harland Sanders Field.
Union Director of Athletics Tim Curry said plans are also in the works for restrooms and concessions stands at both the baseball and softball stadiums as well as permanent seating for softball.
“We are working on many, many things to enhance the student-athlete and fan experience here on our campus,” said Curry.
Construction on the indoor training facility will begin in the coming weeks with the hope of having a ribbon-cutting ceremony during Homecoming in October.