In 1976, when Ed Hegmann first came to Mary Washington, colleagues boasted of the “huge new gym.” But when the new athletic director and men’s basketball coach got his first glimpse of Goolrick, its 23-foot ceilings, and seats for a mere 400 fans, he didn’t have the heart to tell them it wasn’t up to snuff for intercollegiate play.
Thirty-five years later – after decades of patient, diligent lobbying and watching thousands of volleyballs played off the low ceiling – Hegmann finally got the arena he has dreamed of for his Eagles – the William M. Anderson Center, a sleek 52,000 square-foot multi-use convocation center that was dedicated Aug. 25.
The building’s namesake, who served as Mary Washington’s president from 1983 to 2006, was on hand for the ribbon cutting, as was a crowd that included President Richard V. Hurley, former and current Board of Visitors members, athletes, alumni, faculty, staff, and Anderson’s family and friends. Hegmann, who is chair of the Department of Athletics, Health, and Physical Education, thanked Anderson for sharing his dream and keeping the athletic building project “cooking – albeit sometimes on the back burner” for all those years.
“Fortunately,” Hegmann said, “we have finally reached the finish line!”
Everything about the Anderson Center says “pro play.” The gleaming hardwood floor is embossed with the fighting eagle, and the 50-foot ceiling makes a bounced in-play ball nearly impossible. The cavernous room has three 26-foot video screens – two of which lower from the ceiling. Five mounted video cameras capture the action; audiovisual engineers in the control booth can stream the video live on monitors in the upstairs hallways or to the Internet.