BEREA, OHIO -- The Baldwin Wallace University football and lacrosse teams have a new home. The University is currently putting the finishing touches on the former home of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns as it becomes the Packard Athletic Center.
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Robert "Bob" Packard '65 is the winningest football coach in the history of the University with 156 career victories, but more importantly was responsible for teaching and changing the lives of his student-athletes in the classroom, on the football field and on campus. Coach Packard passed away in October of 2007.
“We are deeply grateful to the trustees, alumni and friends of Baldwin Wallace who have made it possible for us to add this much-needed enhancement for our athletics programs and, at the same time, to honor the memory of such an exceptional person,” said BW President Robert Helmer. “Bob Packard touched the lives of thousands of students as he went about the work of shaping teams and molding young people. I think he would be pleased to see this facility doing the same for generations of student-athletes in years to come.”
"This is a tremendous tribute to Bob and his family and the many years that he spent on our campus shaping lives for the better," said 12th-year Head Football Coach John Snell. "Bob Packard was a great man. He was an fantastic football coach and an even better person, father, husband, teacher and mentor. It is an honor to work every day in a building named in his memory."
The Yellow Jacket football and lacrosse staffs moved into the facility on July 8 and it will be officially dedicated at Homecoming on October 12.
The Cleveland Browns have been synonymous with BW football since the 1960s when previous owner Art Modell set up his administrative offices on campus and adjacent to The George Finnie Stadium. The Browns and BW have worked cooperatively for many years by sharing practice facilities and resources, and that cooperation still exists today.
When the Browns left the BW campus (they are now two street blocks away in Berea on Lou Groza Boulevard) and built their own facility, BW took over the facility and renamed it Bagley Hall and turned it into a wellness dormitory for more than a decade. But due to its ever-growing need for space and to address the ever-growing trend of wellness and the school's first-ever lacrosse programs, the University administration saw the need to return the building back to a facility for its football and lacrosse programs.
The construction began last spring and in addition to the existing structure, the University added meeting and office space as well as larger locker rooms to accommodate the two programs. This also will open space at The Lou Higgins Recreation Center for both current students and student-athletes of BWs other 19 varsity teams.
"The new facility is already beneficial to every one of our campus constituencies," said 12th-year Head Football Coach John Snell. "It gives both students and student-athletes a better opportunity to create wellness in their lives. We have always been appreciative of the support that athletics has gotten from the University, and this is just another indication of that support.
"For our non-student-athletes, having a new facility dedicated to football and lacrosse gives them more space and opportunity to create wellness in the existing facilities at the Lou Higgins Center," continued Snell. "For our intramural programs, it creates an opportunity for more and enhanced programming. For our non-football student-athletes, it creates additional opportunities in the offseason.
"I couldn't be happier for our football and lacrosse programs," said Snell. "Logistically, it puts us closer to [The George] Finnie Stadium and our practice facilities. It puts us closer to the Browns and the Browns facilities. It also gives the lacrosse folks a chance to 'hang their hats' and the ability to show incoming recruits that they are wanted and that we have a home for them. It is just good for our entire campus community."
Snell also smiles about his and the university's relationship with the Browns.
"We [the University] have always had a great relationship with the Cleveland Browns," said Snell. "That goes back to the days of Dr. Bonds [former President A.B. Bonds] and Coach Tressel [Dr. Lee Tressel, Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from 1957-80].
"The University and the Browns have always worked hand-in-hand to help each other," said Snell. "Even today, when the Browns need to practice outdoors on our turf at Finnie Stadium, we are pleased to have them on our campus and interacting with our students and student-athletes. Many of our students do internships in every aspect at the Browns.
"And, when we have inclement weather in late October and November, the Browns offer us the opportunity to practice in their indoor facility just down the street. It is a great relationship."
Highlights of the New Packard Athletic Center:
- Dramatic new entrance, lobby and display areas
- Addition of a 3,500 sq. ft. weight room to serve all varsity teams
- A 1,500 sq. ft. classroom that is large enough to accommodate the entire football team which can be divided into three smaller meeting rooms,
- Coaches’ offices for football and lacrosse
- Second-floor conference rooms
- Locker rooms and team showers to accommodate 175 football players
- Additional equipment, training and laundry areas
In addition this summer, an $800,000 investment helped to
renovate the locker, shower and training areas for women and
men’s soccer, track and lacrosse in nationally-renown The
George Finnie Stadium. That investment also will end the need for
visiting teams to cross Bagley Road during contests. Both projects
also will increase the availability of facilities in the Lou
Higgins Center for the rest of the BW community.
Dedicated Coach, Teacher, Mentor
As a football coach, Bob Packard’s teams compiled an outstanding, 156-54-2 career record, including six Ohio Athletic Conference Championships and two trips to the NCAA Division III National Playoffs. Overall, he was part of nine OAC title teams, five NCAA appearances and the 1978 Division III national championship.
“More important than his career statistics was the impact Bob Packard had on those around him,” said Paul H. Carelton '70, chariman of the BW Board of Trustees. “An outstanding teacher and tireless worker, he devoted countless hours to the development of his team of players and his students throughout a career marked by honesty, integrity, care and compassion.”
FOR MORE B-W SPORTS INFORMATION, please contact SID Kevin Ruple by telephone at 440-826-2327 and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and Assistant SID Jeff Miller by telephone at 440-826-2780 and e-mail at email@example.com. Fans can access the latest B-W athletics information at www.BWyellowjackets.com and we invite you to join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bwyellowjackets and Twitter at http://twitter.com/bwathletics.