Nicholls dedicates much-anticipated recreation center

THIBODAUX – Nicholls State University administrators officially dedicated the largest and most anticipated campus facility in years — the Harold J. Callais Memorial Recreation Center — on Friday, Sept. 21.

Located near the intersection of Bowie Road and Ardoyne Drive, the 60,000-square-foot center will open to current Nicholls students at noon on Saturday, Sept. 29. The state-of-the-art facility features 42 cardio machines with integrated TVs and iPod adaptors, a 6,000-square-foot weight room, three group fitness rooms, an elevated walking/running track overlooking two sports courts, a racquetball court, a snack/juice bar and a wellness education classroom. More than 25 fitness classes will be offered each week.

“This facility will change the culture of our campus the day it opens,” said Dr. Eugene Dial, vice president for student affairs. “The rec center will be the new go-to place for students to socialize as well as develop lifelong fitness and wellness skills.”

The center is named in honor of the late Harold Joseph Callais — a Golden Meadow native, successful entrepreneur, Board of Regents chairman and generous benefactor of Nicholls. His son Corey said Harold, a longtime supporter of higher education, would have been impressed with the facility, especially the indoor track.

“After my dad had open-heart surgery at 34 years old, he walked two miles a day, every day,” Corey said. “I wish he were here with us to walk the first two miles around the track.”

Across the country, universities have increasingly invested in recreation facilities and other amenities that high school students look for when making their college decision. For Nicholls to remain competitive, administrators believed it was necessary to build a recreation center along with new housing options and a renovated dining hall. The $16 million rec center was funded by self-assessed student fees, which Nicholls began collecting in spring 2003.

“This facility is an incredible gift from past students to current students,” said Michael Matherne, director of campus recreation. “When we open the doors on Sept. 29, the current generation of students will reap the benefits of the seeds students planted back in 2003.”

Alumni who graduated from Nicholls between spring 2003 and summer 2012 — and therefore helped pay for the rec center — will automatically receive memberships starting on Saturday, Oct. 27, that will last for as many semesters as they paid into the program. Memberships will be available at later dates for Nicholls employees, retirees, affiliates and members of the Nicholls Foundation, Nicholls Alumni Federation, Colonel Athletic Association, PRO-NSU and Nicholls Facilities Corporation. For details on memberships, visit

or call 985-493-2742.

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