Friday was a momentous day for Hood College in Frederick. After 62 years, the college finally opened a brand new athletic center, and OSM was on hand for all the festivities. The new 41,000-square-foot Hood College Athletic Center includes the BB&T Arena, a 1,600-seat arena where the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams will play. It also has a two-floor fitness center, a hospitality center, the Hood College Hall of Fame, coaching offices, four locker rooms, meeting rooms and a full service training room. The complex was the vision of Ron Volpe, who took over as college president ten years ago.
His mantra regarding a new athletic venue since his arrival to campus was “don’t stop believing,” and ten years later, his perseverance paid off. On Friday, Volpe welcomed faculty, students, staff, local dignitaries and trustees to the dedication of his dream project. Construction began on the facility in late January and took only 10 months to finish. The project also came in under budget, costing only $9.9 million to build, just under the $10 million set aside for the center.
As guests entered the arena on Friday afternoon, the cheerleaders and Blaze, Hood’s mascot, cheered on the crowd. The arena was at capacity for the dedication which included the creation of a time capsule that will be locked away for 50 years and a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Dick Dull, the director of Hood College’s Blue and Grey Club, was the afternoon’s emcee. Speeches were given by the chair of Hood’s Board of Trustees, the athletic director, the student government president, but the biggest ovation of the afternoon went to Volpe.
The big moment of the event was the ribbon cutting. The crowd counted down from five to the cutting of the ribbon. After the ribbon was cut, streamers zipped through the air and around the arena, marking a new era for Hood athletics. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” was blaring from the speakers, letting everyone know that Volpe’s dream had come to fruition.
The new facility will replace Gambrill Gymnasium, which opened in 1949. The new athletic center puts Hood College atop its conference when it comes to facilities and really opens up the doors for more events on campus. The arena will be used for basketball games, volleyball matches, concerts and other events. The school is looking at the possibility of renting out the facility, as well. The first game in the new BB&T Arena will be when the women’s basketball team takes on Shenandoah University on November 27. The men’s team will follow with its home opener the next day against Penn State University-Mont Alto.