ST. LOUIS – The bar is being raised when it comes to student athletics at St. Louis University. Hundreds gathered Monday for the grand opening of the O’Loughlin Family Champions Center. This resource center, adjacent to Chaifetz Arena, is helping student-athletes on and off the field.

“It builds connections and that will translate to the field,” grad student Daigo Konnicks said.

Konnicks, a native of the Netherlands, began playing soccer at age 4. He’s played in St. Louis for the last several years.

“SLU is known for a very prestigious soccer legacy,” he said.

Thanks to the 25,000-square-foot O’Loughlin Family Champions Center, it’s not the only game that’s growing.

“This facility takes Billiken athletics to a whole new level. It puts us on a stage where we can compete with anybody in the basketball-centric space of Division I,” SLU Athletic Director Chris May said.

The facility contains a student success suite and a performance nutrition center.

Bob O’Loughlin, chairman and CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management, made some hefty donations to make it all possible.

“What can we do as a game changer? And I said we should do something for the student athletes that raises the bar,” he said.

May said the center was designed by examining the resources that student-athletes often lack and demonstrating a commitment to athletic excellence to prospective students.

“All the resources here were designed and developed to serve student-athletes from 6 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night,” he said.

Academic advising, sports psychology, and spiritual development; all facets of learning that help Konnicks lead by example.

“I’m trying to be a leader on and off the field,” he said. “It’s good to be around your teammates, around the athletic departments where you share the same values.”

The hope is the $20 million gift from the O’Loughlin family and other affiliates will be used to expand the college curriculum.

“We work every day to try and make St. Louis a better place,” O’Loughlin said.

The university tells us with this new facility, it will only elevate their student-athletic programs.