Earl K. Long Gym recently underwent renovations that would provide Ragin’ Cajun Volleyball a place to grow as student-athletes.

 The gym was first built in 1939 and last renovated in 2009,  when the then second floor dance studio was converted into a student-athlete lounge. 

 The renovations bring a series of updates to the public portion of the facility, which include a new court and video board. Additionally, renovations were made to athlete-specific portions of the building including a new locker room, a film room, a team lounge and spaces for meetings. 

According to head coach of the volleyball team Kristi Gray, “To get a brand-new, state-of-the-art Taraflex court and videoboard, a new locker room, team lounge, team film room and conference room in a few short months is impressive.”

E.K. Long Gym after renovations were finished. There will be a digital screen located above the LOUISIANA on the back wall. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 Andre Broussard/L’Acadien

The industry-standard Taraflex court provides the highest impact protection than any previous court and is aimed to reduce the risk of injury for student-athletes while playing.

“We are very excited about this renovation which will greatly enhance the experience of our student-athletes, coaches and fans,” Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Bryan Maggard, who holds a doctorate in education, school and counseling psychology, wrote in a statement to The Vermilion.

Renovations began late April and concluded early August, costing just under $1 million to fully complete. Benefactors who wish to stay anonymous provided the funds used in the construction. 

“We are very proud and forever grateful to those that helped make this happen,” Gray wrote in a statement to The Vermilion.

According to Maggard, “As a volleyball-specific facility, E.K. Long Gymnasium will now serve as one of the most elite venues in the country.”

While these renovations will elevate the venue, student-athletes benefit the most from the renovations. They voiced their appreciation for the renovations. 

“To me the renovations at EKL are a sign of faith in us as a program. Our dedication to creating a new UL Volleyball legacy gets to start in a brand new space,” defensive specialist and UL Lafayette junior Brianna Franklin wrote in a statement to The Vermilion. “This enhances all student-athlete experiences by giving us something else to work for every day.”   

“We are so blessed to have a brand-new look to EKL. Anywhere from the court, locker room, team lounge, study rooms, and other parts of the new EKL have helped to strengthen our performance as students and athletes. We are truly thankful and grateful for our new home,” outside hitter and sophomore Coco Gillett wrote in a statement to The Vermilion.

WIth the renovations, some student-athletes feel a renewed excitement for the upcoming season.

“The new EK renovations are a huge part of our season. A different team, the best coaches, and a new facility is the way to start off a winning season. These new places bring pure joy to our team and our staff, along with our fans, and I cannot wait to see where this season takes us,”outside hitter and UL Lafayette junior Paige Guidry wrote in a statement.

Catch the next home game against Arkansas State Thursday, Sep. 26 at 6 p.m. and again Friday, Sep. 30 at 4 p.m.

Ragin’ Cajun Volleyball also plays against Texas State in Earl K. Long Gym Friday Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. and Saturday Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. 

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