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Athletics Center Supports Creighton, Community

Athletics Center Supports Creighton, Community

Creighton University aspires to educate and develop the “whole person,” physically, mentally and spiritually as a fundamental value of a Jesuit, Catholic education. Part of that equation is the recruitment, retention and education of high-quality student athletes and providing the best facilities for athletic practice and performance.

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m., an important milestone will be reached when Creighton breaks ground for a new athletics center on campus at the northeast corner of Webster Street and Florence Boulevard. That milestone was made a reality by the generous donations of Wayne and Eileen Ryan and family and Dave and Peggy Sokol.

The Ryan Athletics Center and D. J. Sokol Arena, a 46,000 square- foot facility, will house a gymnasium seating 2,500-3,000, women’s basketball and volleyball coaches’ offices, locker rooms, ticket offices, athletic training and meeting rooms, media workrooms and much more. The arena is also expected to be used for other campus and community events including campus assemblies, coaching camps/clinics, concerts, speakers, and high school graduations.

“Board members Connie Ryan and Dave Sokol, and their families, are united in embracing the University’s master plan and have accelerated our efforts to make this center and arena a reality. They felt the timing was right, not only to make a difference at Creighton but to continue the renaissance of making the corridor from the riverfront to the Creighton University Medical Center an academic, athletic and entertainment district,” said the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S. J., president of Creighton University.

Wayne and Eileen Ryan and their family have been long-time supporters of Creighton University. Ryan, BS’49. MS’51, chairman and CEO of Streck Laboratories, Inc., began his career teaching at Creighton before pursuing his passion for research that led to the founding of his company. He and his wife Eileen recently established the Fr. Henry W. Casper, S. J., Professorship in History to honor one of Ryan’s favorite Jesuit professors at Creighton. They are also Jaybackers and their daughter Connie serves on Creighton’s Board of Directors and is president of Streck Laboratories, Inc.

“Our family believes in Jesuit education and we are happy to lend our support as an endorsement of the vision and mission of Creighton University. We are impressed with the progressive academic and athletic plans of the University and know that this center will advance not only the campus community but the metro area as well, “said Ryan.

Dave and Peggy Sokol will be honoring their son D. J., who died following a battle with Hodgkin’s disease, by naming the gymnasium the D. J. Sokol Arena. Sokol serves as chairman and CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a global leader in the production, supply and distribution of energy from diversified fuel sources and recently served on Creighton University’s Board of Directors. He and his wife Peggy are community leaders who devote time and resources to a host of charitable causes, including Creighton University, the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America and more.

“D. J. knew the true value of life and the importance of teamwork. Peggy and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor his life than providing the dollars to fund a sports arena for deserving teams. I have always said that you’ve got to make repayments to your community for the opportunities you’ve gotten from the community,” said Sokol.

According to Bruce Rasmussen, Creighton University’s director of athletics, the planned facility has been included on the campus master plan for six years and will be fully funded by private monies.

“We have been searching to find a more suitable venue for women’s basketball and volleyball competitions for some time. Visionary donors like the Ryans and Sokols make our dreams of an even stronger athletics program, championed by intensely loyal fans, more of a reality. This Bluejay spirit is a unifying characteristic that enhances the institution’s visibility and reputation.” Rasmussen said.

Completion of construction is expected by the end of 2008.