March 29, 2008
NORMAN, Okla. - Alumni, friends and family, as well as current coaches and student-athletes joined OU Vice President for Sports Programs and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione at the Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center Saturday for the dedication of the Becky Dunning Switzer Team Room.
The state-of-the-art team conference room provides a pioneering facility for team meetings, video review sessions and team-building activities. Complete with wood floors, custom cabinetry, gymnastics artwork and computer workstations, the new addition creates a quiet area for the teams to gather, meet and review video.
"It's a great testament to Becky Switzer and the impact she's had on Oklahoma gymnastics," said OU men's head coach Mark Williams. "This addition is really going to help us carry our tradition of excellence into the future for both the men's and women's teams."
A pioneer in the growth of Oklahoma women's athletics as head coach of the OU women's program from 1984-2001, Switzer compiled an impressive 227-105 record in her 18 years at the helm. During that span, Oklahoma claimed eight Big Eight conference titles and made 16 NCAA Regional appearances, including three trips to the NCAA Championships.
An assistant coach from 1980-1984 before taking over the head position, Switzer led OU to the program's first five conference titles in women's gymnastics, including back-to-back-to-back Big Eight crowns in her first three seasons. In her final season, Switzer was named Co-Big 12 Coach of the Year with OU co-head coach Steve Nunno after leading the Sooners to a school record 21 wins and a then-program-best 10th place finish at the NCAA Championships.
OU gymnasts earned 12 All-America honors under Switzer, highlighted by Kelly Garrison's NCAA all-around titles in 1987 and 1988.
Switzer was chosen to represent the U.S. gymnastics squad in many international competitions including the 1988 Olympic Games, the 1989 World's Fair Cup, the Pan American Games in 1975 and 1987 and the World Games in 1987.
"Becky is a legend here at OU and a legend in gymnastics," said OU women's head coach K.J. Kindler. "Every alum that I've met since I've been here has raved about what she's done for them personally, as well as in gymnastics and how she has affected them in a positive way. I have the utmost respect for Becky, and I'm so proud that this room is dedicated to her and that every time we come into this room we're doing something great for Oklahoma gymnastics in her name."
The dedication of the Becky Dunning Switzer Team Room is only the first step in the planned renovations of the Viersen Center. One of only a handful of freestanding co-ed college gymnasiums in the country, the 13,500 square foot facility will receive a major overhaul beginning in January of 2009. The facility is slated to add 7,000 square feet of gym space and undergo a complete renovation of the locker rooms, sports medicine training rooms and the awards recognition room. A new storage area, a reconfiguration of foam and resi pits, and an outdoor patio also highlight the proposed updates. Additional parking will also be added on the North end of the facility.
"All of the renovations are going to increase or competitiveness and our ability to bring in the best and brightest student-athletes and continue the run of championships both programs have had," Williams said.
Funded primarily by private donation, a generous gift by Sam Viersen of Viersen-Cochran Drilling Company of Okmulgee, Okla., resulted in the building carrying his name. A similar commitment has been made by the Viersen Family Foundation for the facility renovation project. Fundraising is currently underway for the revolutionary addition.