For weeks, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle had to guard the new baseball locker room like a parent keeping Christmas presents out of sight.
“Aren’t you glad you didn’t spoil the surprise for yourselves?” he told his players Wednesday after finally letting them into the new facility at Lupton Stadium.
They roared in approval.
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The Horned Frogs moved into their $8 million facility, days before the season’s informal start with the Alumni Game on Saturday and then its official start on Feb. 19 against Loyola Marymount.
It was like Christmas morning. It was hard to sleep last night.
TCU outfielder Nolan Brown
“It was like Christmas morning. It was hard to sleep last night,” outfielder Nolan Brown said. “It’s just something you’re really looking forward to coming and seeing. I’m glad I didn’t peek.”
The Frogs walked into a spacious, modern facility that looked nothing like what they were used to.
“I’d say it’s a bit of an upgrade,” senior pitcher Brian Trieglaff said with a smile.
The locker room is part of a renovation that included coaches offices, a training room, classroom and player lounge above and under the third-base grandstands at Lupton Stadium.
Best locker room I’ve ever seen in my life, first of all. Second of all, all of us know this comes on the back of the hard work of the guys who came here before us.
TCU pitcher Brian Howard
“Coming to a place like this, you know the university is committed to baseball,” Schlossnagle said. “They want to see you do well.”
The Horned Frogs set one locker aside for Micah Ahern, a young cancer patient the team befriended two years ago. They had planned for him to attend, but Schlossnagle said the boy wasn’t feeling strong enough Wednesday.
Still, the team enjoyed the moment with other guests, including athletic director Chris Del Conte and former player Keaton Jones.
“Best locker room I’ve ever seen in my life, first of all,” pitcher Brian Howard said. “Second of all, all of us know this comes on the back of the hard work of the guys who came here before us. We’re just reaping the rewards of everything they’ve done to put this program where it is. We couldn’t be more grateful. We know to whom much is given, much is expected. We’re ready to prove we’re deserving of something like this.”
It’s more than just a cool locker room. It’s the history behind it.
TCU pitcher Mitchell Traver
Pitcher Mitchell Traver also credited former coach Lance Brown, who will lead the alumni team on Saturday.
“Without the Bryan Holadays, the Jake Arrietas, the Matt Carpenters, even the guys nobody talks about — if it weren’t for their work and the reps they put in and Coach Brown and the things they did to raise this program, this is because of them,” Traver said. “It’s more than just a cool locker room. It’s the history behind it.”
Nolan Brown, who transferred to TCU from junior college, said the old facilities were not going to keep him from coming to Fort Worth.
But he was left no doubt about what the new facilities could mean in recruiting.
“I feel like I’m in a major league locker room with everything it has to offer,” he said. “It’s amazing.”