PHILADELPHIA - The holiday season is once again upon us, but Temple University
student-athletes were able to open their gifts early this year with the addition of new facilities at the start of the fall semester.
The Owls were welcomed back this fall to the unveiling of refurbished locker rooms, and later the expansion of the Nancy and Donald Resnick Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes.
These additions were part of an overall master plan put in place by Vice President/Director of Athletics Kevin Clark to upgrade the facilities and support system for the University's 19 varsity sports teams.
"One of the main things I wanted to address when I took over intercollegiate athletics was the enhancement of the Student-Athlete Experience," said Clark. "The overall welfare of our nearly 500 student-athletes, who represent our great University on a daily basis, was lacking behind in many ways, in particular their facilities."
The renovations to the locker rooms included
* New Lockers
* New Carpet
* Player Lounges for each Team
* Plasma Screen TVs for each lounge area and locker room
* Renovated Bathrooms and Showers
And as expected, these changes were welcomed with open arms.
"The locker room enhancements mean a great deal to me and my team," said women's lacrosse junior Nicole Tiernan. "We are so thankful to have the support of the university and for them to further that support by giving us such an amazing locker room. It is making us a better team by giving us space to bond as teammates and focus on both lacrosse and school."
Junior Hicham Belkssir of the men's tennis team echoed that sentiment. "Locker rooms are the athletes' living room. We are thankful that we now have great ones."
Clark and his staff could have stopped there and won the hearts of the Temple student-athletes, but another glaring need had to be dealt with – lack of study space.
With that in mind, a plan was set in motion to increase the size and service capability of the existing Nancy and Donald Resnick Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes.
A 1,500 square foot expansion of the existing center, located on the first floor of Pearson Hall, was completed in October as a part of a collaboration among Temple Athletics, the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Temple's Computer Services.
The newly expanded space includes the following enhancements:
* Creation of six new private student service rooms for tutoring, peer mentoring and private study.
* Addition of 10 offices for full time staff of advisors and learning specialists
* Expansion of department's computer lab from 20 to 36 computers
* Full wireless access throughout the entire center, including multiple wireless printers
* Doubling the seating capacity of the facility
"The Academic Center improvements show how much the Athletics staff here at Temple cares for our academic needs," said women's soccer junior Erin Lafferty, "It is a very resourceful area when running back and forth from class and practice and you need a quiet place to study or do work. It also allows for ample support from staff members, tutors and mentors to ensure we have a comfortable place to seek help."
"We have one of the best academic support staffs in the nation, led by senior director Justin Miller
," said Clark. "But if you do not give your staff the proper facility and tools to work with, it is all for naught. With this expansion, we feel our student-athletes academic experience will continue to be at a high level."
"What this provides for our student-athletes is a centralized location for academic support," added Miller. "In the past we were more spread out. This will allow our student-athletes easy access to their advisors and learning specialists which will make for a better overall academic environment."
Miller and his staff are anxious to see how this new environment impacts an already strong student-athlete academic profile that features 17 varsity teams with over a 3.00 cumulative grade point average and a student-athlete cumulative grade point average at a record 3.08.
With housing and academic support addressed, Clark went to work on ensuring that the health service of the student-athletes was overhauled. Medical coverage was increased to 20 hours per week while three full-time athletic trainers were added to ensure proper coverage for all teams. The athletic training room also added new examination tables while future plans call for additional physical therapy space.
Finally physical fitness, an obvious key component to success of the playing field, was addressed with new additions to the strength and conditioning staff, as well as the purchase of new strength equipment. The strength and conditioning room was also given a complete overhaul with added space to allow for better training.
"Spirit, Mind, Body…we wanted to address all of the needs of our student-athletes, and I believe we have made huge strides over the past year," extolled Clark. "This is just the first stage of what will be a new look and feel for Temple Athletics."