Courtesy: George Washington

GW Baseball Celebrates Grand Opening of Fassnacht Clubhouse

By Atlantic 10 Conference

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"Wow."

One word and a look of astonishment was the best way junior pitcher Jaret Edwards could sum up his first glance of GW baseball's new Fassnacht Clubhouse and training facility. The program's new year-round home at Tucker Field at Barcroft Park was unveiled on Saturday in front of friends and family of GW Athletics and the GW baseball program.

"I had expectations of what it could be," Edwards said. "I've seen locker rooms before, but when I saw what it was – just to see our jerseys hanging up and all the buff and blue – it was really an unbelievable moment. I didn't expect it to be what it is. It's something special."

Saturday's event was a long time coming, the first permanent on-site clubhouse in the history of GW baseball, which stretches back to 1903. It also checked off another box in the process of turning Tucker Field at Barcroft Park into one of the top baseball facilities in the nation.

The vision became a reality thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, headlined by Dave and Tam Fassnacht's lead gift. Additionally, Ave Tucker (GWSB B.B.A '77, former GW baseball student-athlete, and member of the GW Board of Trustees), the namesake for Tucker Field, continued his unwavering commitment to progressing GW baseball.

"I began to get a little emotional," head coach Gregg Ritchie said. "I kept thinking about all the guys in years past that have been working to produce this for GW baseball. They were all sitting out there in the audience. The loving, giving nature of people like the Fassnachts and Ave Tucker all kind of hit me. There was a vision coming here and to have that vision finish out, it's incredible."

"I'm totally excited for GW, the program, and the players," Tucker said. "It's an amazing complex now. These baseball players are amazing representatives of GW and are great student-athletes, which is important to us. They've worked really hard and this will allow them to work harder during the winter and continue their path to success."

The $3.5 million project features a one-story 6,200 square foot building that will serve as the team's permanent clubhouse and training facility. It features a locker room with designated lockers for each player, coaches' offices, player's lounge, and an indoor turf training area. Additionally, the team's existing batting cages were enclosed into a 3,240 square foot structure. The Fassnacht name will adorn the exterior of the building as was revealed on Wednesday.

The ceremony featured remarks from Tucker, Director of Athletics and Recreation Tanya Vogel, Arlington County Athletic and Facilities Services Division Chief Peter Lusk, and GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc, who sported a team-signed jersey with the number "17" to signify him serving as the 17th president of the university.

President LeBlanc expressed his gratitude to Ave Tucker and the Fassnachts, who were also in attendance.

"Your generosity – and the generosity of all donors who contribute to GW – plays an important role in building an shaping an outstanding experience for all students," LeBlanc said. "In making these gifts, you are leaders and role models for others."

"When you see President LeBlanc and Mrs. LeBlanc out here, and Tanya, and all the university leaders out here supporting the baseball team, that means a ton," Ritchie said. "The student-athletes see that. It can't go unsaid, the caring and loving design of Ave Tucker and Dave and Tam Fassnacht truly touches your heart."

Following a ribbon-cutting, the team received its first glimpse inside its new home, finally taking the keys to the new clubhouse.
 
"I was overcome with emotion," redshirt senior pitcher Kevin Hodgson said. "Walking through the clubhouse for the first time, I just think about where I started my first year and where I am now and all the guys I played with. It was definitely more than what I expected. It's humbling to see how far the program has come.

Some of the lockers featured plaques dedicated to those that made the project possible, with naming opportunities remaining for others. The plaque on Hodgson's locker is that of his coach.
 
"For him to be my coach all five years and see how I've developed as a person, I owe a lot of that to him," Hodgson said. "He instills in us a value of being men and handling our business."

Now equipped with a top-grade facility, it's easy to see how the GW baseball program will be able to handle business at a higher level in the near future.

"Getting the field six years ago was the first step and that gave us a home to play," Ritchie said. "But to really pull a team together in terms of a family atmosphere and the bonding, development, and unity, it takes a clubhouse.

The student-athletes know we can come here together and do this better. It's going to be a better experience for every student-athlete that comes here because they're going to have high-level development capabilities with this facility."

Opportunities are still available to join the GW baseball family and help the clubhouse project. More information is available here.

GW baseball's regular season begins in February with the full schedule set to be released at a later date.

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