COLUMBIA — There is no chalk on the high bars, no scuff on the dance floor, no makeup residue on the counters, no spring stretched out of place.
For the Missouri gymnasts and Golden Girls, the new Tiger Performance Complex is more than a practice facility, it’s a dream come true.
“It’s more than we expected, we had no idea it was going to be this great,” Abbey English, a senior Golden Girl, said.
The new facility gives the Golden Girls their first private dance studio, plenty of room to prepare for games and change costumes and a closet so spacious it could make any girl — and some guys — go crazy.
“It’s amazing,” Golden Girl Karielle Chambers said. “We will go in there and say, ‘Oh, we are doing a Latin number, we can use this costume.’ It’s gonna really change things for us, we’re not going to have any organization issues.”
The costume closet connects to a dance studio for the Golden Girls to practice. Before, the Golden Girls practiced at the Columbia Performing Arts Center, when it was available.
“Our studio is huge, so all the girls can be active at the same time," head coach Shannon Fry said. "We don’t even have to take turns, so that is huge. It just cut down on our practice time.”
Fry, a former Golden Girl, knows about the stress of college and is happy her squad has the new area not only for practice, but also for relaxing between classes. In their new lounge, Fry said, they can do just that.
Down a hallway from the Golden Girls lounge, the gymnastics side of the facility has coaches’ offices, physical therapy bathtubs and an extensive room for improving gymnastic skills.
“I think it just gives us so many benefits because there’s so much room and there’s so much new equipment, so we can practice what we want,” senior gymnast Mary Burke said.
Gymnastics coach Rob Drass and Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden toured many facilities at campuses across the country to find the best features in gymnastic facilities.
“I think that you always want to have 'laboratory space' for your students, so this is our laboratory space, this is our training area, the ability for our students to hone their skills in whatever areas they might, whether it has to do with dance or whether it has to do with gymnastics,” Alden said. “So what this does is it provides us with the finest ‘laboratory’ you can find in the country.”