When you walk into the new football locker room in the recently completed Athlete’s Village at the University of Minnesota, you see a cityscape etched into the gray lockers which extends into the back of the room. You see a massive capital M on the ceiling, backlit to stand out and surrounded with a bright gold ring of light, illuminating the room.
One thing is for sure. This is no old school locker room.
The University of Minnesota football locker room is the new standard and one of many fit with custom lockers throughout Athlete’s Village. The GearBoss lockers are designed and manufactured by Minnesota-based company Wenger Corporation.
“This was a huge and complex project for us,” says Mike Mills, Gearboss athletic sales manager. “We were able to install the latest technology and style throughout the campus. The goals are always to save time, space and effort. Teams want durable, flexible and customizable solutions to fit their custom needs.”
Practice Pads And Game Gear
The football locker room is one of many at the University of Minnesota with custom lockers. There’s a “wow factor” in this locker room and it’s deliberate. It’s a great way to recruit student-athletes to consider playing at the University of Minnesota and let them know how much their presence means to the school.
Though they are beautiful, above all, they have to be functional.
“They have to work for the athlete,” says University of Minnesota assistant athletic director Scott Ellison. “We work with the coaches and athletes to make sure it’s got everything they need, including things like USB ports to plug in phones and small safes for securing valuables.”
Ellison says the University of Minnesota chose GearBoss because of its reputation and its Minnesota roots. The locker rooms they designed include football, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, volleyball, baseball, and women’s soccer. There are also dry-stall locker rooms where athletes leave their street clothes, and coaches’ locker rooms.
“What impressed us most was the quality of workmanship and the customer service they provided,” says Ellison. “They come back every year for minor adjustments and fixes and they don’t charge us for them.”
To make sure they were making the right choice, Ellison and his colleagues drove the 1.5 hours south to Wenger’s headquarters for a tour.
“They showed us how many simulations they put on a football locker room door,” Ellison says. “We weren’t satisfied so they used different finishes and made a few adjustments to make sure we were happy with it. If you just listen, that’s what gets you the job. And they listened.”
One Big Space
The football locker room is massive. In more than 4,200 square-feet of space, there are 123 lockers, each at 38 inches wide, set on a radiused layout with both concave and convex curves. Each locker has an oversized space on top for big shoulder pads, two drawers, a hanging space with hooks and a cubby that locks to store personal items. There’s a bench that opens up for more storage and a footlocker at the bottom. Every inch of the locker is meant to house everything a player would need – and then some.
Other highlights include:
- A gray laminate door surface.
- An LED back lit nameplate area.
- Solid surface, double-concealing, tuck-back pocket doors with cityscape hole pattern scene, includes pull handles.
- Multiple cubby compartments and drawers; a security cubby with a digital lock and duplex outlet with USB ports; short garment bar; four single hooks with U of M “M” laser cut in design with maroon vinyl behind.
- Padded hinged seat opens to storage area; front of footlocker is solid surface with machine raised U of M “M” logo; vented front; storage area includes fixed divider.
- Room design includes additional padding between lockers to create a continuous seating area around the circle of lockers.
- LED light strips at top of locker, inside under compartments and in reveal below footlocker.
- Includes four vent areas on back of locker with screens for HVAC system.
In keeping with the high-tech theme, the lights can be dimmed, raised or accented a number of ways. Sophisticated sound systems let coaches make announcements or enable the student-athletes to play their favorite motivational music.
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On the sanitation side, ventilation ducts are integrated into each locker, and are tied into the locker room’s main HVAC system to accelerate the equipment-drying process and clear out odors. Antimicrobial surfaces help prevent bacteria and viruses from penetrating into the wood, reducing the spread of germs.
Finally, an M adorns each footlocker, reminding the athletes of the institution they represent.
Custom By Sport
Wenger has created GearBoss custom solutions for many of the University of Minnesota locker rooms. The softball team wanted a space for bat bags. The hockey teams wanted special hooks for skates. The women’s soccer team wanted a storage compartment behind the seat to allow for folding chair storage. No problem for GearBoss.
“We sit down with the equipment manager and work with Wenger on the GearBoss design,” says Ellison. “They come back to us with a mock up and we can tweak it from there. They make the process easy.”
To see a virtual tour of the University of Minnesota football locker room, please visit www.gearboss.com and click on Projects/Virtual Tours/University of Minnesota.