By Paula Ann Solis
The face of Baylor athletics continues to change, and part of that transformation includes a $3.3 million Williams Family Soccer and Olympic Sports Center scheduled to begin construction this summer.
The new facility is named in honor of 1963 alumnus and former Baylor football player Bill Williams and his wife Elaine, who donated $1.5 million toward the center’s construction. The complex will be part of the Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex along the Brazos River and is expected to be ready early next year.
“The Baylor brand has never been stronger than it is right now,” said Ian McCaw, Baylor director of athletics. “The growth of the athletics department is giving Baylor tremendous visibility nationally and internationally.”
News of the soccer complex’s construction is coupled with the announcement of the upcoming Beauchamp Athletic Nutrition Center. Combined with the McLane Stadium and a new track and field stadium, McCaw said the athletics department will be rejuvenated.
Upgrades from the former complex include a coaches suite, a visiting team locker room, 2,300 square feet for the soccer team’s locker and training rooms and 35 player lockers. The complex will also include a 5,000-square-foot weight room for teams from neighboring facilities to use as well.
“What I’m most excited about is how it will beautifully finish off the aesthetics of the riverfront complex,” McCaw said. “We have dated facilities that will go away like the old batting cages and the current soccer complex which are unattractive. In its place will be a beautiful facility that will tie together the beautiful aesthetics of the riverfront.”
Marci Jobson, the co-head coach of Baylor’s soccer team, said this new facility will mean great things for both the improvement of team spirit and recruitment possibilities. Jobson, alongside her husband and co-head coach Paul Jobson, brought Baylor’s soccer team to record success in the past two seasons with 15 or more wins in back-to-back seasons. This complex, Jobson said, will help the girls on the team feel recognized by the university.
“The dream has become a reality and the excitement has started to flow,” Jobson said. “It makes them feel special. This continues to help with the athletic experience on campus by providing a top of the line facility.”
Although Jobson said the coaches suite will be a change from the small office coaches have now, what she looks most forward to is the larger team meeting room.
A place for the girls to come together, do homework, watch game footage and relax is what she said she is excited about for the girls. The current room, Jobson said, is small and often uncomfortable for the 26-member team.
Jobson said she is grateful for the donation by the Williams family and is excited to see a former football player supporting other Baylor teams. In a press release by Baylor, Bill Williams said his gift is his way of showing gratitude for the first-rate education he received while an athlete at Baylor.
“Elaine and Bill are just genuinely good hearted people,” Jobson said. “It humbles me that he’s given money to help provide a much needed facility for our soccer players. We’re excited about the future of Baylor sports in general and the Baylor vision. I feel blessed.”