How can a team learn to win again?
University of Arizona
When Jedd Fisch was hired to revitalize the Arizona Wildcats football program, he inherited a team that hadn’t won a game in 763 days—the longest losing streak in the nation. Transforming the mindset of everyone from the players to the alumni base would require more than a new playbook. It would require rethinking what it means to be a Wildcat from the ground up.
The Human Approach
Through a series of workshops, Coach Fisch and his staff worked with Deutser to redefine the cultural elements they wanted to embody in their program. But every team has slogans, mottos, and rules. The Wildcat Way needed to be brought to life in a way that their players could feel from the moment they stepped on campus. It needed to be infused in every aspect of their work and life.
A Reimagined Space
We believe in the power of space and experiential design to transform culture. Physical space informs our psychological experiences, influencing how we think, act, and interact. If designed well, space has the power to tether us to the organization’s identity and creates meaningful bonds between people. If intentionally crafted, an inspiring space signals to a team differentiated expectations, shared values, and a winning mindset. Deutser completely redesigned the 73,452 football facility, infusing its unusually personal philosophy into every space—from every position room, to locker room, to coaches’ offices, to the weight room, as well as into every interaction and experience.
The Fifth Quarter
Tucson, Ariz. might now be the only place where you can find Division I college athletes wrangling horses, breaking bowls and then reconstructing them, writing goals on ceiling tiles, being challenged on how graffiti resonates with them, and building the program’s future success out of Legos. Why? As they say on the field, practice makes perfect. Sports are just as much mental games as they are physical. So, for the Wildcats to win, they would have to hit the mental weight room with almost as much force as the squat rack.
We developed a one of its kind “The Fifth Quarter,” a custom learning lab and immersive curriculum to transform players and coaches as lifelong leaders and teammates. These experiences force the Wildcats out of their comfort zones, encouraging them to engage in hard conversations, develop their own set of values, and prepare for life after football. To the coaches, there is nothing more personal than building leaders for life.
The Lasting Change
In Coach Fisch’s first season, the UA football team finally ended the nation’s longest losing streak and have since ranked 20th nationally in total offensive yards. Others are starting to take note: the Wildcats 2022 recruiting class ranked second in the Pac-12 Conference (up from No. 11 the previous season), and Fisch recently secured the commitment of the first five-star recruit in Arizona football’s history.
Moreover, the football players (as well as their families) walk into the building knowing they aren’t just a number. The complex reflects the vision of a winning program and a life-long commitment. Parents have remarked that as they walk through the facility today, they see a culture built on strong values and off-the-field leadership support, providing a holistic and safe environment for their sons. From Spring 2022 to Spring 2023, the team’s average GPA increased by 19%, unexcused class absences decreased by 67%, and team members' community service hours more than doubled.
The Wildcats are a different program than they were when Fisch first stepped on campus. And all of us at Deutser have turned into fanatical Wildcat fans. Bear Down!