Stephen C. O'Connell Center
Florida’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center has a reputation around the Southeastern Conference and throughout the nation - enthusiastic and friendly if you’re a Gator … noisy, deafening and menacing if you’re the opposition. When you watch the Gators play in the O’Connell Center, you hopefully not only go home with a win, but also with a smile on your face.
UF welcomes its competition, affectionately know as “Gator Bait,” with a pre-match show like none other. Spotlights, four video boards, a light show and thunderous music highlight the team introductions before the crowd erupts in darkness. As the lights burst on, the whistle for the first serve blows. Additionally, Florida’s mascots – Albert and Alberta, the band, cheerleaders, the Dazzlers dance team, state-of-the-art shutter lighting system, four video boards, in-game statistics boards, and, of course, the best fans in the country provide an atmosphere that is unmatched in Division I volleyball.
The Gators play on their own volleyball-specific floor, which has been home to many Gator volleyball achievements. The O’Connell Center played host to Florida’s 58-match home win streak (Oct. 14, 1990-Sept. 4, 1994), which at the time was the nation’s longest winning streak. The O’Connell Center is such an intimidating venue that the Gators have posted nine undefeated seasons at home and have won nearly 95 percent of their matches at home since 1991 – one of the top percentages in the nation.
It has been the home venue for First and Second Round competition in 19 of the last 20 years. Ten NCAA Regionals have been contested in the O’Connell Center, four of which sent the Gators to the NCAA Final Four. The Gators have again been selected to host NCAA Regional competition in 2011 and 2013.
“Our success is due in part to the support we receive both by the UF administration and the community,” UF head coach Mary Wise said. “We have in the O’Connell Center a venue that is one of the best places to watch and play volleyball. Our fan base has created an atmosphere where a home match is an event. We are honored to be chosen once again to host the NCAA regional in 2011.”
The Gators have ranked among the nation’s top-10 in attendance for 19 of the last 20 years. In 17 home matches during the 2010 season, more than 45,000 fans passed through the turnstiles for an average of 2,660 fans per match.
The Gator Attack Club, Florida’s volleyball booster organization, is one of the largest groups in the nation. The members sponsor the season-ending banquet, as well as other approved activities, and makes sure Gator volleyball is well represented in the homecoming parade each fall.
The Wise Guys is a volleyball-specific student cheering section that roots on the Gators at every home match and even some away matches.
At Florida, Gator volleyball players interact with their fans in all kinds of ways, including signing autographs after matches. Post-match spikeline and several clinics throughout the year also are offered. The 19-time SEC Champion Gators make the atmosphere at home matches enjoyable for fans of all ages.
|All-Time O'Connell Center Record|
|All Time Record||Under Mary Wise|
All-Time Top 10
O’Connell Center Volleyball Crowds
|4. Florida State.||11/9/93||6,132|
|5. Penn State||9/10/10||6,022|
|5. Ole Miss||10/12/01||5,831|
|8. Miss. State||10/11/02||5,521|
Home of Champions
- Florida is one of only four schools in the Southeastern Conference to compete in its school’s main athletics arena.
- The Gators have played host to 10 NCAA regionals, including four since the advent of pre-determined sites prior to the 2003 season.
- Florida has again been selected to play host to the 2011 and 2013 NCAA regionals.
- Florida has hosted NCAA First and Second Rounds in 19 of the last 20 years.
- The Gators have ranked in the nation’s top-10 in attendance in 19 of the last 20 years.
- Florida has won better than 94 percent of its home matches since 1991 and is 324-19 during that span.
Built at a cost of $14 million, the O'Connell Center (named for former UF President Stephen C. O'Connell, 1967-73) has become the showplace for college volleyball in the Southeast. In 1999, the O'Connell Center received $10.3 million worth of renovations. The old bubble top was replaced with a permanent cap and internal improvements were made, as well. Just in time for the 2006 NCAA Volleyball Regional, a nearly $3 million video installation project was completed. Four 12’ x 16’ video boards, which feature high quality, 10-millimeter resolution, as well as full-color ProAd LED panels, were installed.
The Lemerand Athletics Center
- The L. Gale Lemerand Center was designed to meet the needs of the Gator volleyball team, housing three practice courts, a team locker room and a sports medicine area. The facility is on the same block as the Gator Dining Hall and across the street from residence buildings.
- Florida’s state-of-the-art L. Gale Lemerand Center received another facelift in the spring of 2006, when $13 million was dedicated to renovating the building. Athlete locker rooms, offices and the building entryway all were significantly upgraded.
- Prior to the 2009 season, the volleyball court received a brand-new roof and floor.
- The building features three full-sized volleyball courts and serves as an exclusive practice facility for the volleyball program.
- The Lemerand Center houses offices for the Florida volleyball coaches, including the team’s locker room that was completely renovated for the 2006 season.
- The complex opened in 1995 and features more than 43,000 square feet with the volleyball practice courts accounting for 12,000 square feet. The facility also includes a fully staffed training center with an emphasis on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. The facility gives the Gators an advantage that is second to none.
Strength and Conditioning
One of the biggest advantages the Florida volleyball team has is its comprehensive strength and conditioning program under the direction of Matt DeLancey, assistant director of strength and conditioning for Olympic Sports. DeLancey’s year-round program includes general and sport-specific training. It is a daily commitment to excellence that each volleyball player owes to her teammates in order to be successful on the court.
The Gator volleyball team trains in the ultra-modern and newly renovated Griffin/Oakley Strength and Conditioning Center in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, complete with more than 26,000 square feet devoted solely to strength and conditioning. The renovated weight room, which opened in June 2008, is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment, TV monitors and a top-notch sound and video system.
The University of Florida boasts one of the finest sports medicine staffs in the nation. The athletic training staff has the resources to care for the student-athletes with the most up-to-date treatment techniques to prevent and rehabilitate injuries.
Randall Vereb, a 2004 Florida graduate who began her career as the UF volleyball team’s student trainer, works directly with the Gator volleyball team. Florida is one of just a handful of programs in the nation to have a full-time trainer who works exclusively with the volleyball program. Vereb also employs a student trainer who works directly with UF volleyball.
In addition, the Gators have direct access to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mike Moser and team physician Dr. Cheree Padilla.