Cowley unveils Travis Hafner Training Center during ribbon cutting/open house
Tiger fans from around the country flocked to Arkansas City on Saturday, Nov. 19 for the ribbon cutting/opening of the multi-million dollar Travis Hafner Training Center. Former Tiger great and current Cleveland Indian major leaguer, Travis Hafner, spoke at the ribbon cutting and stuck around to sign autographs prior to the Tiger basketball games.
“This facility is unbelievable, it will be a tremendous recruiting tool and will give Cowley an advantage over any other junior college around,” Hafner said. “I am happy to give back to the baseball program and Cowley College. My wife Amy and I will always consider ourselves part of the Cowley family.”
The facility, which is located at 115 E. Pierce (next to the Tiger Baseball Stadium) in Ark City, will benefit all 15 of Cowley’s athletic teams and is considered to be one of the top junior college indoor training centers in the nation. The facility features a multi-purpose area, batting cages, weight facility, athletic training room, a pair of conference rooms, as well as locker rooms and restrooms.
The weight room will be utilized by each of Cowley’s athletic programs including baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, softball, track, and cross country. Members of the Spirit Squad and Tigerette Danceline will also utilize the facility.
The facility would not have been possible without the lead gift given by Hafner, who graduated from the school in 1997. Prior to making it to the big leagues, Hafner helped lead the 1996 Tiger baseball team to the program’s first trip to the NJCAA World Series and a record of 51-13.
He followed up the success of his freshman season by leading the Tiger baseball team to the first of back-to-back national championships in 1997. Hafner, who was named a Third-Team All-American, still holds the school-record for runs batted in in a season (82), runs batted in in a career (161), doubles in a season (21), and doubles in a career (36).
In 10 big league seasons, Hafner has belted 189 home runs, and driven in 660 runs, while batting .281. He has spent the past nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians after beginning his career with the Texas Rangers.
The baseball, track, cross country and soccer coaches will move their offices to the Training Center.
An athletic training room will also be located inside the Training Center and will feature new equipment for the school’s athletic trainers.
The Training Center will help the Tiger athletic teams in how they practice and prepare for their seasons. It will also serve as a strong recruiting tool.
Cowley athletic director Tom V. Saia thanked Hafner, the college’s Board of Trustees, Cowley president Dr. Patrick J. McAtee, executive vice president of business services Tony Crouch, the college’s Endowment team of Ben Schears (vice president for institutional advancement) and Shannon Massey (executive director of alumni and development), Tiger Booster Club president James Schaefer, the school’s donors, alumni, and Conco construction for making the Travis Hafner Training Center a reality.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Saia said. “Our athletic department has finished No. 2 in the nation the last two years, but with this building we are now No. 1.”
Board chairman Albert Bacastow, Jr. also spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremonies as did Dr. McAtee, Schears, and Crouch.
Schears thanked the donors for making this possible and also mentioned the generous donation of Cow-ley graduate Alex Gottlob, whose company Gottlob Lawn and Landscape LLC donated the landscaping at the Training Center as a gift to the capital campaign. While, Crouch mentioned the outstanding work done by Conco Construction and architect David Herlocker with Gordon & Associates.
On a day that the Cowley volleyball team would go on to capture the program’s first ever national championship, Dr. McAtee made mention of the importance of Tiger athletics.
“We make no apologies as having athletics as a niche at Cowley College,” Dr. McAtee said. “We think athletics teaches character and it should always be a niche here. I want to thank anyone that had something to do with us getting the facility done. It would not have been possible without the lead gift facilitated by Travis Hafner and for that I will be eternally grateful to him.”
Fundraising for the campaign is in the final stages and individuals interested in providing a gift to the campaign can contact Schears at 620-441-5245.