Minnesota State University-Mankato upgrades its locker room

One of the first things athletic recruits and their families see visiting a college campus is the locker room. For that reason, it needs to impress. It should be grand, clean, bear the school’s colors and make the athlete feel proud to be — or aspire to be — a part of the program. 

At Minnesota State University-Mankato (MNSU), the time had come to replace the 30-year-old metal lockers. They were old, rusty and the locker room itself didn’t allow enough space for the athletes and all of their gear.  

locker room
Photo: MNSU athletics department

“When I arrived in 2008, the locker room was already 10 years old,” said head football coach Todd Hoffner. “The Minnesota Vikings had used it during spring training for years, so it endured a lot of use. The metal lockers were dark and not very appealing.”

Head equipment manager Dan Rickbeil said the hinges on the old metal lockers were falling apart. “The old locker room was run down. We were in here two times a week re-riveting hinges. It was definitely time for a change,” he said.

Hoffner said it took a lot of maneuvering to get in and out of the old locker room, and the layout was not ideal. Each athlete had a 14-inch stool that had to be set inside the locker. With clothing, gear, and a shortage of hooks in the locker, there simply wasn’t enough space to accommodate the athletes. They were hoping for a clean and organized area, with a more centralized entrance, and plenty of space for student-athletes to interact, socialize, or study.  

“We wanted a place for them to call their own so they could be with their peers in a welcoming and comfortable environment,” Hoffner said. 

MNSU chose GearBoss Elite Wood Lockers, a product brand of Wenger Corporation, he said. The team was even invited to tour the Minnesota facility when their lockers would be manufactured.

“You might only get one shot at this in your career,” explained Greg Weis, assistant athletic director for development and revenue generation. “This locker room will stand for a long time, so we had to take the extra time to get it right.”

They walked the entire manufacturing floor, reviewing every process involved.

“The tour made us really comfortable with the production value and overall quality,” Weis said. “We knew when we left that we wanted to work with Wenger.”

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Some of the mandatory items for the new locker room included:

  • A custom space for shoulder pads at the top of the locker that can double as a place for a big backpack during the off-season
  • A helmet compartment that creates visual appeal and uniformity across the lockers 
  • A personal space and a lockbox to secure valuables
  • Six hooks in the main compartment to keep athletes organized
  • A shoe space in the footlocker with two fans for ventilation

The new lockers are 7’9” tall to create a big impression, have built-in seats to replace the old stools and have contoured side profiles for a sleek, consistent look. 

“We want our student-athletes to experience a first-class program, and it all starts with the locker room,” Hoffner said. “Our mantra is ‘Respect all but fear none,’ and this locker room conveys that.” 

The new lockers and design of the locker room fits the Mavericks perfectly. 

This locker room has a Division I look and feel and gives us the ability to recruit and solicit talented student-athletes who are playing at a level above ours,” Hoffner said.