Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Mike MacIntyre has a problem. You can file this one under dilemmas that won’t keep him up at night.
Colorado’s head football coach might have to set a curfew for when players have to be out of the locker room at night. The Buffs are so thrilled with their new digs, some of them don’t want to return to their dorms or apartments.
The Buffaloes were finally allowed to move into their new locker room and team lounge in the brand new Champions Center. While there is still plenty of work to do to complete Colorado’s massive new athletic department home and indoor facility, the football team is getting used to having all the amenities it could possibly want before and after practices as fall camp proceeds.
“We’ve been waiting all summer to get in there and (Sunday) night was … guys were jumping around and super excited,” senior wide receiver Nelson Spruce said. “It’s awesome. I get one semester here but I’m going to enjoy it.”
MacIntyre watched as the Buffs explored the locker room and lounge, which includes a theater where players can play video games or watch movies, ping pong and pool tables, a snack area, a barbershop and more. Each locker includes charging stations for phones and iPads as well as aerated, stainless steel shoe compartments that help guard against athlete’s foot.
“It’s just unbelievable,” MacIntyre said. “They thought of everything in there. A lot of them told me they weren’t ever going to go home, they were just going to stay in there.”
MacIntyre then led the Buffs in the fight song for the first time in their new home. He noted players had some extra energy during Monday’s morning practice on Folsom Field right outside the locker room door.
Players have had to carry their belongings and some of their equipment in backpacks and use the student recreation center to shower after workouts all summer because of ongoing construction on the new and old locker rooms. The old football locker room in the Dal Ward Center is being converted into a locker room for some of CU’s female Olympic sports athletes.
“It was really awesome, it really was,” MacIntyre said. “I told them up there and they were kind of excited and we showed them a video of where everything was. When we went in there, it just takes your breath away. They were jumping around and hugging each other and screaming and yelling and we had to kick them out of there. They just wanted to keep staying in there in the lounge and everything. It was really exciting and they really love it.”
Former Buffs defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe returned to CU this summer to work on MacIntyre’s staff as an intern after a year of trying to stick in the NFL. Uzo-Diribe completed his career in MacIntyre’s first season with the Buffs in 2013 when the athletics facilities project was just starting to be discussed seriously.
Uzo-Diribe said he and his former teammates would have loved to have all the amenities CU is finally putting in place to build a championship-caliber team.
“I always say to myself that we had to go through what we had to go through in order for them to get something like this,” Uzo-Diribe said. “It’s definitely a good benefit for them.”
Players said they were happy to get into the locker room while they were still in training camp. The two weeks of camp before classes start included multiple two-a-day practices and can be a grind. It was a relief for the Buffs to be settling into one area and not have to worry about logistics.
“We’re getting used to it now,” defensive back Chidobe Awuzie said.
Awuzie said his favorite part of the new locker room is the ping-pong table. Safety Ryan Moeller said his favorite aspect is simply having room to spread out and feel comfortable.
“Before, we would only get pictures,” sophomore defensive tackle Eddy Lopez said. “It looked nothing like how it looks now. It just looked like an empty room; half the wall was missing.
“Coming in for the first time, it’s amazing. It’s amazing what these construction workers can do. Everybody was going nuts. Everybody was pulling out their camera phones. The size, the size of the locker room is just shocking, unbelievable and amazing.”
Kyle Ringo: twitter.com/kyleringo