Phil Bangayan gazes in awe at the rows of glistening trophies hanging in the Hall of Champions, the showpiece of the newly reopened UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in the J.D. Morgan Intercollegiate Athletics Center.
"It's so much more than I expected," marvels the alumnus. "To be able to stand in this room and see all these NCAA trophies and the 1995 Sears Directors' Cup — it's extremely powerful."
The new Hall of Fame is about twice the size of the old one, which was a rather pedestrian tribute to outstanding Bruins: a conglomeration of plaques, trophies and poster-board displays.
"With the old hall, we certainly did the best we could with the resources we had," says Associate Athletic Director Ken Weiner. "But we're really stepping out with the new Hall of Fame in terms of more dimension to displays, more in-depth presentations of each sport and more things to see and do."
Weiner planned the new hall over the course of two years, consulting with fans, coaches and staff in the athletics department. With Athletic Facilities manager Kevin Borg, he visited 25 different halls of fame all over the country to gather ideas. Weiner then hired UCLA alumna Stephanie Rose and her production company to design the installation.
The results are, indeed, stunning. When visitors walk through the hall's main entrance on the east side of the building, they see a backlit media wall made up of television monitors simultaneously airing UCLA videos and live sports events on ESPN.
Venturing down the walkway, they can view a timeline highlighting Bruin athletics, beginning in 1919 — UCLA's birth year - and extending to the present. On the other side of the path are tributes to the UCLA fan, the Spirit Squad and the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, plus display cases devoted to 22 varsity sports.
Off to the left, visitors can watch UCLA sports films in a 34-seat theater whose walls are decorated with crowd shots from the Rose Bowl. Or they can use the Bruin Athletic Directory, an interactive display screen that lists every student-athlete who ever played an NCAA sport on campus.
In the Hall of Champions, all of UCLA's 155 Hall of Fame members are honored in a dramatic backlit display of glass bricks. Each brick is etched with an athlete's signature, sport, years he or she competed at UCLA and the induction class year.
Perhaps the sight most likely to take one's breath away is the display of UCLA's 86 national championship trophies, the most won by any university in the country. The trophies, suspended by cables, "float" against a background of dark blue velvet.
"UCLA has an athletic tradition that is second to none," says Director of Athletics Peter Dalis, "and we now have a Hall of Fame that is equal to that tradition."