University of Arizona soccer player Kelcey Cavarra, a junior from Colorado, chose the UA in part because of Tucson’s warm winters. But she was unprepared for the experience of practicing during the summer months, when highs can top 105 degrees.
Cavarra has gotten somewhat used to the heat, but still, she says, “It’s really hard training, especially in July, because we do a lot of our conditioning on turf at Bear Down Field. After a while your feet start to heat up and you can smell the hot turf.”
For Cavarra and other student-athletes, the new Cole and Jeannie Davis Sports Center will offer relief from the heat.
The climate-controlled multipurpose indoor practice field includes a 90-yard football practice field with a 10-yard end zone and a ceiling height of 65 feet. It opened in February.
Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke says the Davis Sports Center plays an important role in recruiting the best and brightest students. Potential students, he says, look for spaces that enhance their athletic experience.
“The opportunity for all student-athletes to use the facility in times of inclement weather is a huge game changer,” says Heeke. “Instead of rescheduling or reformatting practices in cases of severe monsoons or heat, students can just move inside.”
Cavarra says she’s excited that the soccer team will be able to use the facility this summer. During past monsoons, if the team couldn’t use their off-campus practice field they would have to take time out of their practice to drive back to campus and use Bear Down Field.
“The new facility will give us a chance to focus 100 percent on playing soccer,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what field we’re on; it just matters that we’re all there, ready to play without distractions.”
UA supporters Cole and Jeannie Davis committed $8 million to name the indoor sports center. Among other projects, their previous support helped renovate McKale Memorial Center and build the strength and conditioning center inside Richard Jefferson Gymnasium. They also have made gifts to the UA College of Fine Arts and other local nonprofit organizations.
“The Davises are passionate about supporting our student-athletes, and I am thrilled that their names are on a building that will have such a vast impact across the whole spectrum of Arizona Athletics,” Heeke says. “They’ve helped us move forward in just phenomenal ways through the years — they are wonderful people focused on what’s best for our student-athletes.”
The new sports center is part of a larger $66 million capital campaign that includes multiple projects aimed at enhancing the experience of Arizona’s nearly 500 student-athletes, including renovations to the east side of Arizona Stadium, Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium and McKale Center locker rooms.