Chessick center built to rival others across US


The football team practiced in the newly unveiled Chessick Practice Center Sunday. The facility was opened to the public Saturday. Athletics toured similar facilities throughout the United States prior to the center’s construction so they could see what features they would want at NIU.

By KeAndre Worthy

Athletics had more to celebrate than football’s win Saturday, as the Chessick Practice Center was also unveiled this weekend.

The Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center was opened to the public, marking the end of the two-year project. Kenneth Chessick, who donated $3 million toward the facility, said the project started in September 2011. Athletics toured and researched facilities around the country to get a good idea of what NIU wanted.

“They looked around the country, saw what they did and didn’t do to their facility, took the best of everyone to make ours … better than everyone out there,” said NIU President Doug Baker.

The Chessick Center facility includes a football that meets NCAA specifications, artificial turf that matches the field, a four-lane sprint track and a retractable center divider to allow multi-sport use of the facility.

“I admire student athletes. I feel they are the backbone of this university, and [I] wanted to give them a place that all the student athletes can use to enhance their skills,” Chessick said.

The center includes environmentally friendly features, like a white roof for reduction of the “heat island” effect, translucent wall panels that provide daylight without hot spots and direct and indirect energy-efficient lighting.

“A lot of sports can participate in here on too hot or too cold days,” Baker said. “Even the band can practice in here. The center [is] designed to keep conditions comfortable, never hitting the extremes.”

Chessick said the reason he gives so much to NIU is because NIU provides a greater sense of family and its students come from a blue-collar family background similar to his, so he relates to them well.

“[The Chessick Center] is beautiful; what else more can you say? They definitely did their homework. It’ll helps NIU compete with the big boys better because this looks more like a professional facility than a college one,” said Oak Park resident Bernard O’Connell, who saw the facility at its unveiling.

Saturday also marked the unveiling of NIU’s Huskie statue in the Yordon Family Huskie Pride Plaza in front of the Chessick and Yordon Center.

“When designing the statue I wanted them to show strength in character but also personality. …Each Huskie has different face but are together in a pack,” said sculptor Renee Bemis. “[The three dogs] don’t have names yet. but they definitely need some. I think the plan is to get student involved in the naming of them.”

Chessick’s advice to students is to find something they are passionate about and also find pride in all they do.