Will Wade saw wasted space.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball locker and meeting rooms inside McKenzie Arena were separated by one door last year.
Wade had a different idea on how to use the limited space in the arena that is approaching its 31st birthday. The old film room is becoming a gathering room -- a players lounge.
"I think it's important to give our players space over here where they can come and enjoy themselves," Wade said of the facility, which has been funded by sponsors. "It's easier for them to come up to our offices if they're already in the arena. So we want this to be an inviting area."
Hardwood floors were placed down on both sides. The lockers were refurbished. Showers were updated, and so was some of the electronic wiring, so that the locker room doubles as a film room for pre-practice meetings.
New leather-like couches embroidered with the "Power C" have been brought in, and a computer or two are expected to arrive in the near future for the gathering room.
In the new locker room, coaches can show video clips and players can learn by turning their chairs to the flat-screen TV. Or they can look the other way and watch Wade draw up plays on a dry-erase board with full- and half-court diagrams of the McKenzie Arena floor.
"We'll put up TVs, put in a gaming system and a refrigerator," Wade said. "The old film room was chairs in front of a TV.
"It still needs a couple things including a graphics package. We're not done yet."
Sophomore Casey Jones has taken advantage of the new home away from home. He used to take naps at his on-campus apartment. He's now catching afternoon snoozes on a new couch.
"[The room is] only half-finished and it's better than anything I'm used to," Jones said Tuesday night. "I slept on the couch today. It's great. I was out in two minutes."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...