DeKALB – It was evident to Joe Novak that Northern Illinois needed an indoor facility when he was the Huskies’ defensive coordinator in the early 1980s.
Novak was never able to benefit from an indoor practice center when he was an assistant in DeKalb from 1980 to ’83, or when he led the Huskies from 1996 through 2007.
But in July, Novak got a taste of the new facility when he was able to go on a tour with a group that also included Bill Mallory, who coached NIU the four years Novak led the defense.
“So much more than I ever would’ve anticipated,” Novak told the Daily Chronicle. “It is huge. It is a big, big facility.”
Mark Mulhauser, NIU’s associate athletic director for major gifts, said construction is scheduled to be completed at the end of October. Mulhauser said FieldTurf will be arriving next week.
According to Mulhauser, who led a tour of the facility at NIU’s annual media day Wednesday in DeKalb, the school hopes to hold an open house for the facility Oct. 26 when the Huskies take on Eastern Michigan.
When Novak took the NIU head coaching job in 1996, he started campaigning for an indoor facility, it was just a matter of getting the funding. He also wanted a new football office building first. The Yordon Center was completed in time for the 2007 season, so Novak got to use that during his final coaching campaign.
In the past, NIU has had to use the DeKalb Recreation Center for bowl game preparation or spring workouts during cold weather. That’s not the case anymore.
“When you’re talking winter time or spring time in DeKalb, spring practices, there’s a lot of days we couldn’t get a decent spring practice in April,” Novak said.
Soon, the NIU coaching staff will be able to give recruits a tour of the Chessick Center, and cameras will certainly catch it when the Huskies are on TV. The building will only help when it comes to recruiting.
“I’ll tell you what,” NIU head coach Rod Carey said, “when we finally practice in there, I think it’ll make a huge difference.”
NIU football couldn’t be in a better spot, coming off the Orange Bowl appearance. The Chessick Center is a nice, added bonus.
“When I first came in, I think it was only a few years [since] the Yordon Center [had been built]. There was no indoor [practice facility],” NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch said. “It’s on the rise, like I said. Having an indoor is going to help us, it’ll benefit us in the winter time for bowl games. Whenever we’ve had bad weather we can always have a place to practice.”