Schwartz Center improves caliber of Miami’s athletic facilities

Nestled between the Wellness Center’s outdoor basketball courts and the Hecht Athletic Center stands a modern piece of architecture that services the University of Miami’s 400-plus student-athletes.

Kicked into action by a lead donation of $5 million by Theodore and Todd Schwartz, a design team composed of Moss Construction and AECOM, and nonstop planning by President Donna Shalala, the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence is one of the newest buildings to grace UM’s campus.

Opened on Oct. 4, 2013, the $14.7 million Schwartz Center encompasses 34,000 square feet, two floors and countless individual and team athletic titles. The first floor is home to the Paul J. DiMare Gallery of Champions, which holds awards and memorabilia earned throughout the years by UM’s talented athletes – anything from Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta’s Heisman trophies to the five football national championship trophies.

The second floor includes a brand-new football locker room donated by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as well as a state-of-the-art academic center that includes computers, study rooms and a 140-seat auditorium. An academic office and compliance office are also on the second floor.

“I like working for Schwartz because athletes have unpredictable schedules, and I feel like I’m making a difference when I meet up with them,” said Soomin Cho, a student tutor. “For student athletes who have so much to balance, the tutoring service helps them a lot and they really appreciate my help. Tutoring them also encourages me to be more productive.”

According to the Schwartz Center’s website, the facility’s main goals are “Enhanced Football Facilities, Student-Athlete Academics and Student-Athlete Wellness.”

The Schwartz Family has had a consistent relationship with UM for years – Theodore and his wife Christine Schwartz, a UM trustee, were also the lead donors in the building of the M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies.

The reasoning for the Schwartz Center’s physical placement is twofold; it not only resides near the rest of the athletic facilities, but it is also an expansion of the Hecht Athletic Center. The expansion part includes sports medicine and sports training areas, which contain an anti-gravity treadmill to rehabilitate lower extremity injuries, according to its website. It is attached to the north side of the Hecht center, as the Hecht donors dedicated the area in 1979 as a “new era for Hurricane athletics.”

“[We] are so lucky to have the Schwartz Athletic Center,” said Julia Koch, a senior on the track and field team. “We have amazing trainers, doctos offices, Jacuzzis, ice tubs and an underwater treadmill … the center inspires us to represent the U in both the classroom and on the field.”

Even long after the Schwartz Center closes for the day, it can be seen by passersby because of its giant green and orange “U” emanating from the back wall of the entrance through the glass front. The building’s modernity will hopefully be a beacon for continued athletic excellence in the future.

The Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence is open to the public from 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday.