On the count of three, a large group of Franklin & Marshall College student-athletes burst excitedly through a blue-and-white crepe paper ribbon and descended a flight of steps to the lower halls of F&M's Mayser Physical Education Center.
Their destination: a twin set of gleaming locker rooms modernized to create an expanded, state-of-the art facility.
Approximately 150 student athletes, coaches, parents and supporters of F&M athletics turned out for the Aug. 14 unveiling of the new locker rooms, which were renovated this summer at a cost of $2.1 million.
As they bustled through their crisp new spaces, the student-athletes let loose a steady chorus of joyful "oohs" and "ahs."
"They're a fantastic addition to F&M athletics," said Melissa Mariano, women's field hockey head coach. "It enhances the overall experience here for all the athletes."
In brief remarks prior to the unveiling, Patty Epps, director of athletics and recreation, thanked the administration and the many supporters of F&M athletics for the upgraded facilities.
"It's an incredible conversion of a beloved space, and the Athletic Department is very grateful to the College for this renovation," she said. "It is a reflection of the College's ongoing commitment to providing our student-athletes with the resources they need to develop as learners and leaders."
Located in the basement of Mayser, one section of which was built in the 1930 and another in 1959, the locker rooms are divided into comparable wings for men and women. Each has a central bath area with private showers. The locker rooms will serve 12 F&M teams rotating through their respective seasons, and each features pro-style wooden lockers with wooden stools, flat-screen televisions for game reviews, and rubber floors. The space also includes a visitor's locker room.
"It has been completely renovated. This was one of those projects where everything clicked on budget and on time," said Mike Wetzel, associate vice president for facilities management and campus planning.
To accommodate more student-athletes, the size of the athletic training and rehabilitation areas were doubled. Located adjacent to the squash courts, they now include offices where trainers and doctors can meet in private with athletes. The basement's heating and ventilation systems were improved, too.
Standing in the locker room for the men's soccer team, head coach Dan Wagner told a group of parents and supporters he envisioned members of the team gathering in the space not only for practices and games, but to watch professional soccer matches on a soon-to-be-installed large-screen TV and bond with one another.
"I see it as a place where they can come together as a community," he said.
The upgrades didn't stop there. The College also recently reconditioned the 400-meter, eight-lane William J. Iannicelli '48 Track, resurfaced Brooks Tennis Center's eight courts and common areas, and installed a compact-shelving storage unit in Mayser's basement to store a variety of athletic equipment.
The improvements come on the heels of last year's major project -- upgrading the multi-purpose athletic field at Race and Harrisburg avenues with fresh natural turf and new drainage and irrigation systems.