Schmidts and Bickles: Saturday morning dedication ceremony at FHSU christens indoor athletic training facility

This time it was Schmidt-Bickle.

The families of Bob and Pat Schmidt and Don and Chris Bickle have teamed up repeatedly to donate funds for much-needed improvements within the Hays community. The order of the names previously had been Bickle-Schmidt -- as in the Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex -- but this time the names were reversed.

The Fort Hays State University community, including hundreds of athletes, gathered at 8:30 on Saturday morning to dedicate the Schmidt-Bickle Indoor Training Facility.

The Schmidt and Bickle families announced two years ago that they were each donating $1 million to jump-start funding for an indoor practice venue that would serve multiple Tiger sports teams. The 50,400-square-foot facility on the site of the former practice field between Lewis Field Stadium and Big Creek is now a reality.

"I want to thank the student athletes who got up early and came here on Saturday morning to help honor the two families who made this possible," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. Recognizing that "success in life is not an act, it's a habit," the president said it was important to give FHSU athletes a practice facility where they could develop successful habits.

Football Coach Chris Brown, speaking on behalf of all Tiger coaches, thanked the Schmidts and Bickles and said the new facility would help attract student athletes. "For recruiting, it will be tremendous," he said. "When you walk into this building, how could you not want to come here?"

Don Bickle thanked President Hammond and Athletic Director Curtis Hammeke for their foresight and tenacity. "Chris and I were pleased, proud and honored to be involved in this fine project," he said.

Bob Schmidt was also in a celebratory mood. "I'm delighted to be here," he said, adding, "but at 86, I'm delighted to be anywhere." He also took a playful jab at his partnership with Don Bickle, noting that the two had been involved in more than 20 for-profit and non-profit enterprises, and that some of the for-profit ventures had turned out to be non-profit. "None has given us more pleasure than this facility," he said. "All you athletes, this is for you."

The new facility serves athletes who represent FHSU in football, men and women's track, baseball, softball, men and women's golf, and men and women's soccer. The facility has a 65-yard, artificial-turf practice field; batting cages; a 70-yard, three-lane synthetic track with jump pits; a 5,000-square-foot weight room; and a team meeting room.

With limestone veneer on the north and east sides of the building, a folding partition that allows the meeting space to be divided into separate rooms, equipment for weight training, and other furnishings. Compton Construction Corp. of Wichita was the general contractor.

The cost of the project was about $4.2 million.

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