UI Athletics set to construct gymnastics, spirit squads training center

(UI Athletics news release)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa plans to begin construction of a new Gymnastics and Spirit Squads Training Center this fall, pending approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

The new, climate-controlled practice facility will feature competition-style beams, vault runways, uneven bars and a floor-exercise space. In addition to nearly 21,000-square-feet of practice space, the facility will house locker rooms, meeting and athletic training rooms, office space and a multi-purpose room. The $20 million project — paid for by athletics department revenue and private gifts — will be built on the Hawkeye Campus, adjacent to the women’s soccer and field hockey facilities on Prairie Meadow Drive.

“(Head) Coach (Larissa) Libby has done a remarkable job leading our gymnastics program. I am excited we are providing a dedicated training space for these incredibly talented student-athletes,” said Beth Goetz, interim Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie director of athletics chair. “Our spirit squad, dance team and Herky spend countless hours representing our athletics program, and the institution. This facility will create efficiencies for both of these programs.”

The women’s gymnastics team has historically practiced in the Field House, which is outdated and not adequately sized for the program. The Spirit Squads do not have a dedicated practice facility and has historically practiced in one of the Field House gyms.

“I am thrilled at the idea of a new facility in the works for my team,” Libby said. “We have been successful in many key areas over the past several years; within the community, academically and athletically, so we are eager to take the next steps forward in further depth of success for this team.

“A new facility opens a whole new world of opportunity for us in every aspect. From efficiency of practice, time management, recruiting and the overall safety and well-being of our student-athletes, we will be looking to set a new standard for how people view Iowa gymnastics. Among all of these exciting new standards is the strong and firm demonstration of the university’s commitment to the Rise of women’s sports at Iowa.”

The women’s gymnastics team finished the 2023 season ranked No. 26 nationally, reaching as high as No. 15 during the regular season. Libby, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, has led the program to 22 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances (either as a team or individually) during her Hawkeye tenure. This is Libby’s 20th season as head coach and 23rd overall with the program.

“The opportunity for the Iowa Spirit Squads to have its own practice facility is amazing,” said Gregg Niemiec, UI cheerleading coach. “Having the Marley dance floor and cheer mats permanently installed, the sound system built in, and game/fitness items just steps away is a game changer for our teams. This is a place we can call home.”

This facility is part of the Hawkeye Women: RISE campaign, a transformational initiative to support women’s athletics at Iowa. To support the campaign, or for additional information, visit www.hawkeyewomenrise.org