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Boost higher ed recruiting with athletic facility design – Chadron State College

by Erin P. Froschheiser, RA, NCARB, LEED AP

Throughout this spring, LEO A DALY Project Manager Erin Froschheiser will share insights in a series of blogs. She will discuss firsthand data and feedback from LEO A DALY fieldhouse and athletic-facility project clients, stakeholders, students and school staff, who reflect on a facility’s ultimate influence on recruiting, retention and perception.

Read previous installments: Introduction and Part 1


Athletic programs don’t just affect athletes. They also impact fans and families because strong athletic programs can help shape the identity of a school in the eyes of entire communities. For example, just ask any Nebraska native to explain the phrase “Go Big Red.”

In the western part of the state, the Chadron State Eagles’ athletics program operates out of the Chicoine Center, which opened in November 2014.

“We include the facility on campus tours and we’re very proud of it,” said Chadron State College President Dr. Randy Rhine. “Prospective students understand that we have a strong athletics program and when they come here, they will be able to experience athletics at a high level. They will have a full college experience from that perspective. The building brought us into a new era and has really improved the experience for our student athletes.”

When the Chicoine Center opened, it marked a first for Eagle athletics. For the first time, all coaching staff could inhabit the same office space, resulting in greater collaboration.

“It has made a big difference in camaraderie and shared experiences among coaching staff,” Dr. Rhine said.

The Chicoine Center supports 13 sports for men and women. It houses a world-class, open-concept strength and conditioning center in the space formerly used as a natatorium.

“The training room and strength and conditioning room allow our student trainers and exercise-science students, as well as our recreation majors, to intern and gain valuable experience,” Dr. Rhine said. “The Chicoine Center certainly serves as a support facility to certain academic programs and provides a high-impact learning experience to those students.”

The new, U-shape gymnasium seats 1,750 spectators in top-fed seating. Its technology infrastructure supports lighting solutions that allow the facility to flex for use in formal ceremonies such as commencement. The arena-style configuration allows spectators to enter and exit without walking across the gymnasium floor and interrupting other individuals with trips for concessions, for example.

According to Dr. Rhine, two of the most significant academic exercises that take place in the Chicoine are fall and spring commencement. “Using Chicoine as the venue for these events allows us to now have everyone, family and friends, in one location,” Dr. Rhine said. “Prior to Chicoine being online, we had to use the [much smaller] Armstrong Gym and then broadcast video over to the ballroom in the student center to accommodate guests.”

Today, six basketball hoops attached to the Chicoine arena’s 35-foot ceilings enable its transformation into multiple practice spaces.

“Everything about [the Chicoine] has turned out just right,” Director of Athletics Joel Smith Jr. told the local newspaper when the facility opened. “I’m talking about the court, the seating, the sound, the lighting, the scoreboards and the general atmosphere. It’s comfortable and intimate, yet it provides plenty of space and is user-friendly. It’s the best I’ve seen at a school our size.”

Part 3 in this series will be available soon. Follow us on social media to join the conversation. 

Erin Froschheiser Leo A DalyAbout the Author

With more than 16 years of experience, Erin Froschheiser stands out to clients for her service-oriented style of leadership and successful track record of delivering complex projects. She believes wholeheartedly that today’s facilities should meet the needs of their users, while maintaining adaptability. Erin can be contacted at 402.390.4457 or