SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - Progress n [ˈprəʊgrɛs] - movement, as toward a goal; advance.
In the ever-evolving landscape of collegiate athletics, status quo has become an archaic concept. Adaptability and forward thinking are increasingly vital to ensuring the future viability of an athletics department and guaranteeing that its most important members, the student-athletes, are provided with an environment in which they can thrive.
Over the last few years, the narrative surrounding Seton Hall Athletics has been defined by a strengthened commitment to the objective of providing the optimal student-athlete experience, one rich in opportunities to grow personally in addition to excelling athletically.
Born out of this rededicated focus has been a large-scale plan to renovate and modernize the University's athletic facilities, an ambitious undertaking that aims to address the amenities available to all 14 varsity programs sponsored at Seton Hall by enacting a set of sweeping changes in as timely a manner as possible.
Over the last 13 months, this process has already borne significant fruits.
In June of 2012, an extensive renovation of the men's basketball locker room and video room was completed (link). Just months ago, as winter gave way to spring; a new example of evolution shone bright over Owen T. Carroll Field in a new, high-tech LED scoreboard that was installed in time for the latest baseball season and is only days away from being utilized as part of the game day experience for both soccer programs as well.
The third project to reach completion received its finishing touches before reopening in the final week of July and is the most universal, and perhaps the most impactful, venture to be introduced to date.
The brand-new Center for Sports Medicine was made available for use in the middle of the summer and is fully functional as SHU's contingent of over 240 student-athletes returns in preparation for the new academic year and their respective seasons.
"We are very excited to have our new Center for Sports Medicine up and running as we head into a new year," said Director of Athletics Patrick Lyons. "This facility was a priority in terms of the number of capital projects that are currently in development as we look to take every possible step to safeguard the well-being of the young men and women who work tirelessly to represent Seton Hall on the field of play. It also represents our new standard of excellence in regards to our facilities that in the future will be the norm."
"By no means are we finished," he continued. "With an overhaul of our fitness center already in progress in addition to the Charles W. Doehler Academic Center for Excellence, which is on track to be completed in the near future, the progress that we have made is a credit to the vision of the University and the generous support of our Pirate Blue donors. These changes will not happen overnight, but we remain committed to exploring every avenue to elevate the student-athlete experience at Seton Hall to a level that rivals any institution in the nation."
With a final price tag in excess of 1.5 million dollars, the entirely revamped sports medicine facility is more than twice the size of its predecessor. The brand-new space not only reflects an expansion of the old facility but according to Director of Sports Medicine Tony Testa, has greatly enhanced the on-site care that he and his staff are able to provide.
"All the changes that have been put in place have given us the capability to do a number of things that wouldn't have been feasible within our previous setup," he said. "The whole area is simply more functional and allows us to better meet the needs of our student-athletes."
The remodeled area features a number of exciting developments. Among them are the new taping stations and treatment areas that serve as an upgrade to the ones that had been in place but have also consciously been installed with facilitating the care process.
"Under the new design, the whole room flows better," explained Testa. "Whereas our old taping station was located in the middle of the room and often led to crowding, now our student-athletes can simply come in and step directly into the taping area that has been placed in the corner without creating traffic issues."
The influx of student-athletes isn't the only thing that is moving better. The new treatment tables are also adjustable, allowing for changes according to the student-athlete and staff member involved.
One of the more significant additions is a dedicated physician's area within the facility; something that Testa believes sets Seton Hall apart in terms of the medical attention made available to student-athletes without ever leaving campus.
"What we have done is implemented a rotation of specialists that will be available to treat our student-athletes throughout the week," Testa said. "One day we'll have an internist in here and the next they can come see a cardiologist. The amount of professionals that we keep on staff and the equipment that is available to them such as our new electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) machine is far ahead of what most private universities without an associated hospital are able to offer."
Also part of the redesign was a dedicated rehabilitation area that is structured to supplement the recovery efforts of those with injuries. The rehab zone features a different surface than the rest of the facility as Mondo flooring; the track surface most commonly used at world-class events, was included to better fit the purpose of the area.
The most well-documented portion of the new Center for Sports Medicine, a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy room, also serves to augment the recuperative work that can be done within the confines of the on-site facility. The room is lined with three 14-foot in-ground HydroWorx tubs that provide the full spectrum of treatment. One tub is equipped with an underwater treadmill, minimizing the strain on a student-athlete in recovery while also allowing the SHU staff to monitor their progress under the water.
"As sport medicine professionals, our function is evolving," Testa said. "These additions not only allow us to help our student-athletes get back into action faster after the fact, but we can also utilize them to perform a multitude of preventative exercises as well."
The initial response from the current group of Pirates has been overwhelmingly positive according to Testa, saying that many have been taken aback by the drastic reformation that has taken place in such a short period of time while also expressing their gratitude.
"What we have built here is nothing short of a first-rate facility," he added. "We have students in our athletic training program that as part of their education, spend time working at various institutions in the area as well as professional organizations such as the New York Jets. Judging by their feedback, the equipment, personnel and space that we have at our disposal and the wealth of capabilities that the combination provides is on par with that of a major sports team."
In recent years, Seton Hall Athletics has made it a priority to undertake initiatives that will position the University's 14 varsity programs and its student-athletes to continue to succeed in a new era of BIG EAST and collegiate athletics.
The new Center for Sports Medicine stands as another step towards achieving that goal, another symbol of progress.