PHOENIX — New weight room, same motto.
“One goal. Champions.”
Oh, and, of course, beat Arizona.
Arizona State football showed off its new workout out facility Wednesday, the last day of summer conditioning. The weight room is one of the many additions to the program’s new state-of-the-art student-athlete center.
The two-story gym has a nutrition bar, meeting room and training tables. Large windows allow natural light to flow in, something the old weight room did not. A large sound system and plenty of televisions highlight the facility, and a big-screen TV will be installed at a later date that will show highlights and workout videos.
Arizona State felt its facilities were lacking compared to those in the Pac-12 and kicked off a three-phase renovation. The college hoped that it would help enhance the image of the program, and the current players have taken notice.
“I’ve never seen (anything) like it,” junior defensive lineman JoJo Wicker said.
The weight room and the rest of the football facility is located in the north end of Sun Devil Stadium. The workout area is only for football, which was not the case in previous years. Wicker said that the team having a place of their own will help them bond.
The last two seasons have been tough for the football team. They have finished under .500 in each of those seasons, and Todd Graham’s team has gone 13-16 since reaching No. 6 in the polls in November 2014. The team is looking for improvement, and redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins feels that a new weight room is a step in the turnaround process.
“To be successful, you want to have successful things around you,” Wilkins said.
Success is key, according to Wilkins and Wicker. They both believe the team must earn the new digs every day, especially since the last two seasons have been rocky.
The weight room and facility is a place the players seem to want to be. During the gym portions of the workouts Wednesday, teammates gathered around a bench and encouraged each other during sets. Rap music blared through the entire room and players danced as they waited their turns.
The family-like atmosphere is one the Sun Devils hope to maintain during fall camp and all throughout the season.
“A team that plays like a family together will win football games,” Wilkins said. “At the end of the day when adversity strikes, family always comes together.”
The family feeling was not the only motivator during the weight session. At each bench and at spots on the wall were pictures of the University of Arizona. From logos to Wildcat highlights, the pictures were placed to motivate the players. One included a tweet from the Wildcats’ official account about rushing for 511 yards against Arizona State in last season’s meeting.
Pictures like these will remain throughout the season. It will not be Arizona every week, but instead it will be of the team that the Sun Devils will meet that week.
Not all players need pictures for motivation. Redshirt junior offensive lineman Sam Jones, who broke the rock in the Dickey Dome Wednesday morning, says he is a self-motivator. But it never hurts to have a little extra jump.
“I’m not going to lie, it was nice before my squat match to look up there and see a little U of A thing,” Jones said. “It definitely gave me a little more juice to get it up.”
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