Lenoir-Rhyne University will hold a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for its newly completed Neill McGeachy Sports Performance Center at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7. The public is invited to the event, which will follow with the historic 100th year of L-R football season opener against St. Augustine's at 6 p.m. in Moretz Stadium.
The $3-million, 14,000 square-foot facility was named for McGeachy, 1965 L-R graduate and former director of intercollegiate athletics and executive director of the Bears Club, who died in 2018. The sports performance center features a weight room, nutrition bar and indoor turf training area, dedicated team meeting rooms, additional coaches' offices and an enclosed pavilion and outdoor courtyard for Bears Club hospitality and engagement space. The facility supports student-athletes in all 22 intercollegiate sports in both sports performance and personal development.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kim Pate, director of athletics, will highlight the competitive advantages of the facility for student-athletes, as well as the recruiting benefits and community engagement spaces that serve the broader campus and community. Other key speakers will include University President Dr. Fred Whitt, Board of Trustees Chair Madeleine Dassow and The Rev. Dr. Andrew Weisner.
"A heartfelt thank you to our donors who have provided one of the finest facilities for our student-athletes," Whitt said. "This facility will enable our student-athletes to perform at their best and to represent the Bears at the highest level of excellence. Paramount to the sustained success of Bears athletics are facilities consistent with a championship program. The new sports performance center will serve to highlight the success of L-R athletics in an increasingly competitive environment."
McGeachy was an All-American three-sport standout student-athlete at L-R in football, basketball and track from 1961-65. He served the school's athletics for 14 years, and his transformational leadership elevated Bears sports to national prominence while spearheading unprecedented growth. Additionally, the Bears Walk brick paver campaign provided an opportunity for individual donors to honor teammates, distinguished teams from all sports, L-R Sports Hall of Fame members, All-Americans and former coaches. More than 250 brick pavers were installed.
"In addition to honoring Neill's legacy, the facility will enhance the student-athlete experience, improve recruiting, elevate performance and position Lenoir-Rhyne as a leader in Division II athletics," Pate said. "Our coaches and staff are better positioned to develop our student-athletes for both sport and life."
Following the ceremony, the Bears will take the field at Moretz Stadium for their season opener, which also kicks off the Centennial Celebration Between the Bricks. The Bears, who completed one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation in 2018, were selected as the 2019 South Atlantic Conference preseason favorite. The football team won the league championship last year after finishing 12-2 with a perfect 7-0 mark in conference play under the leadership of Head Coach Drew Cronic, who was named NFCA National Coach of the Year. In the same preseason SAC announcement, a school-record 13 players were selected for First Team and Second Team All-Conference.
This project is the latest in a series of facility improvements at L-R. In 2018, permanent grandstands were installed at the Moretz Sports Complex. In 2019, construction began on the Duane and Madeleine Dassow University Commons, where the original president's home is being renovated and a new structure is being built on the north side to enable University leaders to gather with student groups, meet with faculty and partner with city leaders and distinguished guests for community building events. More recently, the Moretz Stadium, home to the football and men's and women's lacrosse teams, demolished the home side seating and temporary bleachers have been installed for the 2019 season, while plans are underway for additional stadium enhancements in 2020.
The ribbon cutting and dedication is free and open to the public and will take place in the new weight room. Guests attending are encouraged to access the facility through either the main stadium lot or the Bears Club tailgate area. Tickets for the football game are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Learn more at lrbears.com.