Dream Becomes Reality with Huskies' Move into Yordon Center

GO HUSKIES Joe Novak enjoys the view from his new office at the Yordon Center.
GO HUSKIES
Joe Novak enjoys the view from his new office at the Yordon Center.
GO HUSKIES
Yordon Center Photo Gallery

July 30, 2007

DeKALB, Ill. - With this week's move into the new Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center, Northern Illinois Athletics has entered a new era. Located adjacent to the South End Zone of Huskie Stadium, the Yordon Center houses nearly all of Northern Illinois' student-athlete support units and will serve as the home for the Huskie Football team.

From the "smart" classrooms in the Frances and George Wilkins Academic Support Center to the state-of-the-art rehabilitation pools in the athletic training center to the expandable storage area in the equipment room, everything about the Yordon Center says "first class."

It is a building Huskie student-athletes deserve, says NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jim Phillips.

"The number one priority since my arrival has been to build an infrastructure that allows us to support the dreams of our student-athletes," Phillips said. "This facility helps us accomplish that goal, and is a huge step forward in providing our students with a world-class experience."

To Northern Illinois Head Coach Joe Novak, the dream of a facility like the Yordon Center has been just that - a dream - for most of his tenure at NIU. The man who has led the Huskies to seven straight winning seasons, can't quite believe the building is a reality.

"I still can't picture myself, and our team, in the building," Novak said as he and his staff officially moved in and began preparations for training camp. "It feels like we've been talking about it for eight or nine years. At first, we just wanted to get new offices, but this is beyond our dreams and expectations. Our kids will have a chance to develop academically, socially and athletically, because it's a place they're going to want to be. It will be a tremendous boost to our program."

When Northern Illinois' football student-athletes report to campus for the beginning of preseason camp Sunday, they will meet in the brand new, tiered, 150-seat auditorium. Technology-enhanced position meeting rooms, coaches offices complete with windows and a new locker room large enough to accommodate the entire team highlight the "football" areas of the 62,000-square foot building.

Meanwhile, all NIU student-athletes will use the new Frances and George Wilkins Academic Support Center which features classrooms equipped with "smart" consoles that allow instructors to use audio-visual aids, multiple tutoring rooms and small group areas. A spacious computer lab features all new equipment while the Yordon Center's location near the center of campus gives NIU's academic counselors more opportunity to interact with student-athletes.

Just down the hall is the 15,000-square foot Strength and Conditioning Center where multiple teams can now work out at the same time. New weight equipment, branded with the Huskie logo, awaits the student-athletes who also have use of a four-lane, 40-yard sprint track.

The Huskies' athletic training room is truly "state-of-the-art" and includes an X-ray machine, doctor's office and two rehabilitation pools with video monitors. The central area is more than twice as large as the Huskie Stadium athletic training room and will allow NIU's athletic trainers to serve more student-athletes more efficiently than ever before.

Likewise, the Huskie equipment room will reach new levels of efficiency with its Yordon Center operation. Located adjacent to the football locker room, a new storage system maximizes space while heavy load washers and dryers will save energy and time.

Construction on the $14-million privately-funded facility began in June 2006 and NIU Athletics staffers were able to move in prior to the target completion date of August 1, 2007. The building is named for Northern Illinois supporters Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon, who in November 2006 announced a $2.5 million gift to the project, making it the largest gift to Huskie Athletics in the 107-year history of the institution.

"The response we received from the Yordon, Wilkins, and Roberts families, and all of our incredibly generous donors, has been wonderful," Phillips said. "The completion of this facility and its quality is a credit to the people on campus, from President Peters to Executive Vice President Eddie Williams, [university project manager] Jeff Daurer and the NIU Foundation board and staff. So many people have worked extremely hard and contributed a great deal to make this dream a reality; words can not express our sincere gratitude."

For Phillips, already thrilled that the Yordon Center was completed ahead of schedule and that Novak will be able to enjoy the building constructed in large measure as a result of his team's success, true satisfaction will come when school starts in late August and hundreds of Huskie student-athletes use the facility daily.

"We have been counting down the days to moving into the Yordon Center," Phillips said. "When I saw the completed project, my jaw dropped open. To be certain, I cannot wait to see the reactions of our student-athletes when they return to campus this fall and that building truly becomes their home."

-- NIU --