Renovations of the athletic training room and men’s and women’s locker rooms in the University’s Jerabeck Athletic and Activity Center should be completed by July 1, according to UST head athletic trainer Leslie Bennett, and a new dance room is already in use on the second floor of the building.
UST Athletic Director Todd Smith said the University’s transition to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III, which was approved on Feb. 25, increases the number of sports teams at UST and necessitates upgraded equipment and rooms for coaches and athletes.
Smith said the number of student athletes is projected to increase from 250 to 270 in the next few years, and that improved facilities are necessary to compensate for the lack of athletic scholarships for new student athletes under Division III guidelines.
“Recruiting is going to be very important,” Smith said. “Now, all of a sudden, we have very small athletic scholarships that we will lose, so you have to upgrade your facilities to kind of make up for that.”
Bennett said Jerabeck’s training room will be expanded by 10 feet on each side, and that the work will begin in March. She said the added space will give student athletes a designated rehab area, a “wet” area, new treatment tables and new taping tables.
Bennett said the wet area will include a refrigerator, ice machines and a whirlpool that can be temperature-controlled. The whirlpool will be used for smaller-extremity injuries, and will include a bench where athletes can sit and rehabilitate any pains.
“It can fit around 5-8 people, about the same as the black tub outside [by the pool], only more sanitized,” Bennett said. “Technically the [black tub] we have outside that we use for ice baths after practice will still be used, only this one will be more sanitized and temperature-controlled, so people will have to shower before using it”.
Along with the athletic training room, Smith said the University will be repainting and rewiring the locker rooms to create a more “lounge-like atmosphere,” with added space for all sports. Bennet said the rewiring will mean improved Wi-Fi for athletes in case they want to study.
She said the men’s locker room now has a film area, an area where athlete’s watch film of previous games, of its own so men’s athletics don’t need to share the film area in the women’s locker room.
Smith said ensuring that strength and conditioning equipment and facilities are accessible on campus for off-campus sports such as soccer and baseball is crucial.
“Batting cages are critical for baseball, so creating an area for the new players will benefit them greatly,” Smith said.
Bennett said the University will be adding three batting cages behind Jerabeck in between the pool, and turf which will be turned into batting cages for the incoming baseball team to practice on campus.
Smith said big renovations in Jerabeck come with big expenses.
Spencer Conroy, UST’s Vice President for Finance, wrote in an email to the Independent that the dance room upstairs, which he said students call “The Lion’s Den,” along with the other renovations in Jerabeck, are being funded out of UST’s general operating revenue.
According to Bennett, the Den hosts an 8 a.m. yoga class on Mondays and Wednesdays, a 12 p.m. yoga class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a Zumba class on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. Schedules are posted around Jerabeck Athletic Center.
Junior education major Oscar Aragon, a UST men’s soccer player, said he was excited by the changes.
“Any athlete would want to come into a new atmosphere, something better than where they were at before.”