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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball program has achieved plenty of success throughout its rich history, including winning four Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division Championships in the past decade alone.
FSU, which has curently claimed back-to-back divisional crowns, took a significant step towards maintaining the program's championship history by renovating the team's locker room home inside Jim Wink Arena this summer.
The renovation project included the addition of 16 custom-built wood lockers along with new carpet, a trophy case, improved lighting and new wall images.
The project was made possible thru the generous support of several individuals, including local supporters Dr. Fred and Diane Guenther along with Dr. Bob and Kim Buckingham in addition to the Ferris State Physical Plant team.
Recently, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place as the Bulldog student-athletes returned to campus and had a chance to view the finished project for the first time.
"Fred Guenther came to me and wanted to help renovate our locker room and it really needed it," said FSU men's basketball head coach Bill Sall. "When you spend this much time inside the facility, you want them to have a sense of community and make this a home. That was really the vision that we had and the outcome is simply outstanding."
In addition to donating materials, Guenther spent countless hours this past summer constructing each wood locker, which include padded seats, storage compartments, clothing hooks and more. Members of the Bulldog basketball program, including coaches and players, helped along in the construction process.
"It was a labor of love, but it was neat to see our players involved in the process from beginning to end," Sall added. "They have much more of a sense of pride in this project since they were a part of it. We're so thankful for the support from everyone involved."
The idea of renovating the facility came to Guenther after viewing images of other facilities, including the Bulldog Hockey locker room and the University of Indiana's men's basketball facility during the Bulldogs' trip to Bloomington in 2010.
"I'm a fan of Ferris State Basketball and had seen some of the other locker rooms and thought we could do something similar," he said. "I'm very happy with it and it turned out beautiful. I really like the professional look of it and am thrilled I was able to play a role in this."
The Buckinghams' too were instrumental in the effort with financial contributions helping support the carpet and the purchase of one of the first lockers.
"My father used to be an announcer for the Bulldogs and I grew up coming to games so we've tried to give back over the years and this was one way we could help," he said. "I think it's fantastic and really brings enthusiasm and vigor with it to the building."
Senior forward Daniel Sutherlin echoed many of the student-athlete's thoughts with his comments on the facility.
"I was blown away by it and it's unbelievable," he said. "We now have a locker room that is on par or above anyone else in our league. Everyone's excited and it will certainly help boost our morale as we head into another season."
The program is currently seeking financial contributions from those interested in sponsoring a locker. A plaque on the locker will recognize those who have assisted in the project. For more information on sponsoring a locker, please contact Will Goode at (231) 591-3818.
Ferris State ended the 2011-12 men's basketball campaign with a 16-11 overall record after winning a share of a second-straight GLIAC North Division Championship. The Bulldogs also made their 13th all-time GLIAC Tournament berth this past year, including the program's fourth-straight conference tournament appearance.
Overall, Ferris State has won four league titles and made three trips to the NCAA Tournament in Sall's 10-year tenure.
Seven letterwinners and four starters return for the Bulldogs this coming year as the program attempts to win a third-straight league crown. FSU opens practice for the 2012-13 season in October.