DECATUR — Just as spring cleaning projects all around Central Illinois are underway, the Griswold Center at Millikin University is no exception.
The court that hosts Big Blue volleyball and basketball games is getting a fresh coat of paint. Gone is the traditionally wood-colored court, with a mostly Millikin blue court with gray sections inside the 3-point line replacing it.
Several factor led to the decision to have the floors redone. First, it was time for the regular floor maintenance to be completed, which is done typically every seven years.
"For the past several years, we have only done a light sanding and re-sealing on the floor," Millikin assistant athletic director Bryan Marshall said. "We were to the point where the floor experts told us it had to be sanded down to the wood and redone,"
The head coaches of Millikin's four sports teams that use Griswold's gym — men's and women's basketball and men's and women's volleyball — were consulted on the new design.
"Someone had brought up the idea of a blue court and everybody kind of got on board and it kept going that direction," women's basketball coach Olivia Lett said. "I think that it is unique and there aren't many out there. I believe the University of Memphis has a blue court as well but that is not quite the same. It gives us something that is a little bit different and I think that that can be a perk sometimes."
The unorthodox idea of a blue floor led to some skepticism for Lett, but seeing the final product changed her mind.
"I wasn't sure if I was in love with a blue floor to begin with but I have talked with some of our current players and recruits and everybody seemed to be completely on board," she said. "When I walked into the gym the other day and I saw it, I thought it looked really cool and it turned out way better than I could have imagined and that was before the lines or logos were on it. I have been pleasantly surprised at how sharp it looks and how clean it looks. I think that we are excited to get going on it.
Another factor that affected the court repainting was the rule changes involving the the 3-point line. The line was pushed back this season to 21 feet, 1 3/4 inches for Division I men's basketball and that change was originally to implemented by Division II and III men's teams in the 2020-21 season.
"Men's basketball's 3-point line was supposed to move back this upcoming season but with the ongoing COVID pandemic they have moved that change back another season but the floor was in need of a new paint job anyways and so we moved ahead to put that line on the floor and they will play from the closer line this year and then move back," Lett said.
With Millikin's campus currently closed, the Griswold work as able to be started earlier than normal. Along with the court, some classrooms have also been repurposed.
"We are sprucing up the two classrooms in Griswold. The rooms will no longer be used for academic classes so we are doing some remodeling to make them more flexible spaces for Athletic department needs," Marshall said. "We are painting the rooms and doing minor renovations. The rooms will be used for a variety of things from time-to-time including a small weight room, team meeting rooms, backup changing room for officials, photography studios and team function rooms."
The upgraded facilities will be critical in making the case to future athletes that Millikin is the school for them.
"We try to recruit the local area very strongly and that has helped us start to draw bigger crowds and that is one of the reasons we want to do it. We want the smaller towns and communities to come watch to see kids they have grown up watching," Lett said. "We had some great crowds last season against Illinois Wesleyan, Wheaton and North Park and the gym was rocking. I think that is one advantage with Griswold being older. It can get pretty loud in there and that is something we are hoping will continue to grow.
"I'm hoping that on this court we will get to host conference tournaments and host NCAA games and play on this court in some games that really matter."
PHOTOS: Millikin University's Workman Family Baseball Field
Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!