The big news involving the University of South Alabama lately has involved the proposed construction of an on-campus football stadium. In fact, Mayor Sandy Stimpson presented a plan for helping to finance the project at the recent City Council meeting.
However, there is more going on in West Mobile than just football. Here is a glance at several projects that have been completed or are still in the planning stages.
• The new Jag Fitness Trail officially opened during the spring semester. The 1.5-mile exercise path, located alongside USA North Drive, Aubrey Green Drive and Health Services Drive, has a crushed rock walking surface and three stations for stretching and strength training.
“The University of South Alabama is committed to providing opportunities for fitness and wellness for our community,” USA President Dr. Tony Waldrop said. “The Jag Fitness Trail is part of the commitment. I invite you to join me and take advantage of this new trail.”
Julee Waldrop, an athlete herself as well as an advocate of physical activity, said she and her husband walk each morning at 5 a.m. as they prepare for their busy days. It is a chance for the two to communicate “without the distraction of electronics.”
“We are lucky that in Mobile there is rarely a day when you cannot go outside and get moving,” she said. “Embrace your environment and get outside and play.”
Jag Fitness Trail features include: scenic views; an 8-foot-wide path; core fitness, balance and flexibility exercises; muscular fitness; lighting for night-time activity; benches and drinking fountains; and existing parking available. The Jag Fitness Trail borders the wooded Glenn Sebastian Nature Trail and USA’s disc golf course.
• The Jaguar Training Center, which collapsed while under construction in July 2017, has been rebuilt and is expected to be open soon. While the covered 96,000-square-foot facility will be primarily utilized by the USA football team, it also will be available for other athletic department and university functions.
• The Department of Athletics is pursuing external funding to construct the Jon Lieber Clubhouse. The new facility will be constructed parallel to the foul-ground fencing in left field of Eddie Stanky Field. It will nearly double the square footage of the current clubhouse, which was officially dedicated in 2005, and will feature an upgraded locker room, weight room, conference room and additional office space.
USA officials said this overhaul, along with the facelift of the Luis Gonzalez hitting facility during the past year, ensures baseball is able to stay proactive from a facility standpoint and compete within the ever-changing landscape of college baseball.
To get involved in the project and learn about current naming opportunities, visit jaguarathleticfund.com.
• The slab was poured last week for a cutting-edge practice facility for the men and women’s golf programs. The building — which will be at the west end of the driving range at the Robert Trent Jones Magnolia Grove Golf Course — is set to include a 2,000-square-foot clubhouse featuring two hitting bays equipped with golf swing analysis cameras, plus men and women’s locker rooms.
The complex will feature a short-game area containing chipping greens, putting greens and a bunker. In addition to providing opportunities to improve for student-athletes in the two programs, USA officials said the complex is expected to aid in future recruiting.
The men’s golf team (Birdie Club) and women’s squad (Chip in Club) each have specific support clubs to accept donations that go directly to support of their programs. You can learn more at either jaguarathleticfund.com.
Other USA happenings
USA athletics recently claimed the Vic Bubas Cup — presented to the Sun Belt Conference school with the top all-around program — for the fourth consecutive year and 14th time overall. USA finished with 130.5 points; Texas State was next with 125.5.
“In a year in which the namesake of this award passed away, we should pause and recognize Commissioner Bubas and his impact on the Sun Belt Conference,” USA Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann said. “The Bubas Cup highlights the collective competitive spirit of all student-athletes and programs of our 12 Sun Belt institutions. This achievement is the result of effective leadership within all aspects of the department — student-athletes, coaches, support systems and fans.”
The Jaguars won the award backed by regular-season championships in women’s soccer and tournament championships in women’s soccer and men’s tennis. USA also saw success in women’s cross country (third), women’s indoor track and field (second), women’s tennis (second) and women’s outdoor track and field (third).
Men’s golf finished fourth overall in the team standings and made it to their first match play semifinals. Women’s basketball also had a strong showing in 2017-18, winning 21 games overall and 11 in conference play. Women’s volleyball set a new program record with 12 conference wins and posted the teams’ most overall wins (17) since the 1994 season.
• In another story involving USA, a partnership with Adidas has been announced. The Portland, Oregon-based company will be the official athletic apparel and accessories brand for the Jaguars.
“We are excited about this partnership with Adidas,” Erdmann said. “The aspects of the agreement will obviously have a positive impact on our financial bottom line, but equally important is our access to the direct team sales program and Adidas’ sincere desire to have South Alabama Athletics representing the Adidas brand. Recognition must to go to Deputy Athletic Director Daniel McCarthy, as he has been the point person throughout this process and will continue to lead the transition over the next several months.”
The new deal began June 1 and runs through May 31, 2025. As part of the agreement, Adidas will supply all footwear, apparel, uniforms, accessories and equipment for each of South’s 17 sport programs. Additionally, the university will participate in the Adidas Team Program, which features direct team sales.