Brian Green found a way to kill two birds with one stone.
Almost every day since COVID-19 shuttered Washington State’s baseball season, the first-year coach has walked 4 to 6 miles with his wife, Becki. If they’re willing to put in a few more miles than usual, the stroll drops the couple off on the corner of Fairway Lane and NE North Fairway Road, where WSU’s $10 million baseball facility project is well underway and approximately six months from completion.
For Green, it’s a way of getting his daily exercise in but doubles as an opportunity to see progress within his baseball program at a time when bats aren’t being swung and pitches aren’t being thrown.
“The framing was up and next thing you know, the walls are up,” Green said. “It’s massive, it’s big. Before COVID-19, we were looking at October and I believe we were still close to that. We’re obviously shooting for October 31, was to come out of the gates and cut the ribbon during a football Saturday.
“Obviously, a lot’s still up in the air, but we’re still on point and on schedule for that October and November. They’re doing a great job, the weather’s been great and it’s moving right along. I try to send (a picture) out every three days.”
Green offered updates on the renovation project – named “Back to Omaha” as a tribute to the program’s goal of reaching the College World Series – spoke about the culture change the Cougars underwent when he took over last June and also touched on WSU’s efforts in the community during Thursday’s live chat with The Spokesman-Review as part of the Northwest Passages Forum.
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The specs of the “BTO” project are impressive. The renovation, which was completely funded through private donations, includes a 1,300-square-foot locker room, a 1,500-square-foot workout room for weight training and cardio, as well as an academic area, team meeting room, equipment storage area, athletic medicine and nutrition room, coaches’ offices and a museum-like area to showcase the program’s history.
“It’s blown up recruiting,” Green said. “We’ve got four kids in the top 10 in the state of Washington that are coming to be Cougs next year. We’ve got the No. 5-ranked junior college class in the country coming here next year and that BTO project was massive. Recruiting-wise, it just put us in a statement of value with the rest of the Northwest.”
Keeping players and coaches in the same complex is another aspect of the facility that Green thinks will improve the culture and chemistry of the program.
“We don’t get an opportunity to see our kids on a daily basis right now,” Green said. “We’re in Bohler (Gym) and they’re walking across the field, and if it’s snowing they’re just walking to the field. Some things that I didn’t think about are, number one, we get to see our kids every day when they walk into the clubhouse. ‘Hey, come into the office and let’s hang out for 10 minutes. Let’s talk about life, let’s talk about your academics.’ We don’t have that opportunity right now in Bohler.”
The Cougars don’t have a designated learning space now, forcing coaches to offer instruction from the confines of the home dugout at Bailey-Brayton Field. Having access to a classroom with a film projector will allow them to get information across in a more efficient manner.
“We get the classroom setting, which we do in the dugout,” Green said. “Now we get to spend more time and show video and really take that into a much bigger space. Then the kids just get to be around each other and that’s a value statement that says, ‘We are on level ground with Oregon State, Oregon and Washington in the Northwest.’
“We’re certainly aware of what’s around the corner for us.”
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