Though there won't be any Division 1 cross country championships this year, renovations to the Eddie Smith Field House continue.
The Eddie Smith Field House was opened in 2001 as the home venue for the North Carolina indoor track and field team, and this round of renovations was the first since then. The field house was named by long-time UNC donor Eddie Smith Jr. in honor of his father, Eddie Smith Sr., former UNC men's basketball player Eric Montross told The Daily Tar Heel.
Montross works with the Rams Club as the major gifts director and has kept in touch with the Smith family throughout the renovation process.
“(Smith Jr.) has been a pillar in many successes not just in athletics, but with Kenan-Flagler and within the medical research community,” Montross said.
Smith Jr.'s donation will aid in providing renovations for the field house, including adding a new track and interior for the building.
The renovations have taken place in two phases. During the fall of last year, the field house received new paint and carpet in the locker rooms. Chris Miltenberg, UNC's director of track and field and cross country, said this initial round of changes was a quick renovation to make the venue look presentable to recruits. The larger piece of the project started in the spring.
Jaci Field, director of the Eddie Smith Field House, said she and her team want to thank the Smith family for their contribution, and that the renovations will help college athletes and students alike.
“They have so much pride in making sure the building stays usable for all students, not just student-athletes,” Field said.
The spread of COVID-19 halted the planning stage of the project, which worried those involved in the planning. Despite this, Miltenberg said the renovations continued, and emphasized that Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham was firm in ensuring that the renovation plans stayed on their timeline.
Miltenberg said one of the first things he noticed upon his arrival to Chapel Hill was that the team didn’t have a home base to gather at as a group.
Brianna Isles, a redshirt senior jumper and captain on the team, said she was grateful for Miltenberg’s efforts to bring the team together. Isles said spending time in the field house will give her a chance to talk to different event groups and sprinters, since she isn’t normally around them during practice.
“I’m just excited for Eddie Smith to be a home,” Isles said.
Since the start of last season, the track coach has emphasized to the team the importance of beginning all their practices in the field house. The renovations could be another boost in building cohesiveness for the Tar Heels.
“I want that to be our home,” Miltenberg said. “That’s where your team gets built — in those moments.”
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