11:08 AM

Women’s volleyball team ready to call Covelli Center home

As carpenters and contractors worked to finish The Ohio State University’s Covelli Center, members of the Buckeye women’s volleyball team deliberately avoided updates on the progress of construction.

Head coach Geoff Carlston said his team wanted to be surprised when they opened the doors to their new home. The reaction to their first visit to the new building this weekend was exactly what he hoped it would be.

“A lot of them were crying. They were hugging. There was excitement. Everyone handles it a little bit differently,” Carlston said. “We had a few that were just in awe. And I mean there were definitely tears.”

Carlston offered Ohio State News a behind-the-scenes tour of the new 3,700-seat arena. The arena is the new home to seven varsity sports: wrestling and the men’s and women’s squads in volleyball, gymnastics and fencing. In addition, it will serve as the occasional venue for women’s basketball as well as the host site for local tournaments and camps.

The Covelli Center now serves as the dedicated training facility for men’s and women’s volleyball. The teams will benefit from up-to-date locker rooms, offices, training and treatment rooms.

Inside the dedicated locker room is a team theater. A giant television, flanked by new speakers, sits in front of two rows of movie-style seating.

“We’ll do a lot of team meetings here. Obviously, we’ll go through our teaching and our game plan and practices and all that will be in here,” Carlston said.

Next to the theater is a player’s lounge. Carlston said the room is still awaiting some finishing touches as the team finds ways to personalize it.

“As we make it more of our own and let them put their touches on it, it will feel even more and more like home. I’m super excited for that part of it,” he said.

The new building is already helping the women’s team compete in the future.

“We have a top-five recruiting class coming in that’s built on the dream that has now become reality,” said Carlston, adding that he and his team are thankful to have a new home in the university’s Athletic District.

Gratitude is a central theme to his coaching philosophy and part of a breakfast discussion every morning.

“So when we’re breaking bread, we’re talking about ‘what are you thankful for today? What are you thankful for? What are you grateful for?’ And all of them, at one point or another, have said this building, this space, the ability to be here.”

Jennings Family Wrestling Practice Facility

The Covelli Center is also home to the Jennings Family Wrestling Practice Facility. The new site includes a state-of-the-art practice facility, along with offices for coaches and student-athlete space.

“It was always the right time for student-athletes to be in a place that is as cool as they are,” said wrestling head coach Tom Ryan. Executing a plan to upgrade space for the team “took the leadership of this current administration. So I’m really grateful to this administration and to our donors who stepped up.”

Ryan said the new facility is already drawing attention for Olympic and national wrestling events.