JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A longtime wish has been granted. Jacksonville University athletics can now boast with the best when it comes to training and recovery.
"The purpose was to continue to grow the experience of our student-athletes and provide enhancements where we believe the essential areas are student-athlete welfare, well-being, and strength and conditioning," said Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert. "They spent a lot of time on the court, field, and course, but the gains made in the weight and training room are so essential."
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Andrew Bates and Director of Sports Medicine Doug Frye researched and led the refurbishing for their respective departments. For Bates, the budget meant an almost-complete overhaul of the weight room could be accomplished. The 2,400 square-foot facility is utilized by all of the athletic programs and a complete list of the new equipment is listed at the end of this story.
"I first started planning a weight room in 2013 when I was promoted to the head position," said Bates. "Once I knew it was going to happen, I went through all of the layers and modifications, and now we have the best and most efficient weight room we can for our space."
"When we first found out about the money we were going to obtain, we were given the task of identifying areas within our department to upgrade," added Frye. "After identifying and allocating money to that, we had some leftover and had to decide what we could expound upon."
Frye's research and experience directed his purchasing recommendations to bring state-of-the-art equipment to JU. Included in the near $200,000 in purchases are a light therapy unit, thermoset pro, X-5 hebdomad, 15-watt laser, multiple tools, digital diagnostic system, Normatec recovery units, and blood-flow restriction units.
"In our athletic training room we've added everything that you have at a Power 5 school, at the Jaguars' professional stadium, and we were able to do that for all three of our athletic training rooms," said Frye.
Both upgrades have resulted in immediate benefits across Dolphin athletics, which has nearly 500 student-athletes.
"Around 300-400 student-athletes use the weight room daily, and everyone has been excited. There has been a different energy amongst them. It's for them, the weight room is something they are going to use daily throughout the entire year, and that's going to help them achieve greater success on the field," said Bates. "It makes their workouts more efficient and effective. It's amazing and exactly what we needed here."
"Now that we have these upgrades we are more efficient and able to give student-athletes more advanced options for treatments for recovery time so they can get back to action faster," said Frye. "They have been very excited about what we have brought in."
A prime example of how one Dolphin has benefited from the upgrades is former running back Ulysses Bryant, who completed his eligibility in November. In his last game of the season, Bryant had the heartbreaking happen. He left his Senior Day game vs. Marist in the first half with a shoulder separation, but thanks to the new blood-flow restriction system, Bryant's recovery was greatly accelerated.
"We rested him for a week during the Thanksgiving break, then in the middle of the following week we began the blood-flow restriction therapy. Over a two-week period, he was back to normal with full strength and range-of-motion and pain-free," said Frye. "Numerous student-athletes have seen expedited returns from the laser therapy with tendinitis, back spasms, and muscle sprains, and light therapy has quickened wound healing."
In the weight room there are 12 new stations that, according to Bates, "have everything you need in one rack."
"You don't have to leave it, run across the room for something, or wait for another group to finish," said Bates. "We're all about not wasting time in here, and this allows us to be the most efficient."
The granted wish for these upgrades was patiently anticipated by the Dolphins, but to see its vast impact, there is no wait time.
Strength and Condition Center Upgrades
• 4 Dynamic Double-Sided Ultra-Pro Racks
• 4 Dynamic Ultra Pro Half Racks
• 2,400 sq. ft. Ecore Ultratile Flooring
• 12 Inlaid Custom Platforms
• 12 Sets of York Bumper Plates
• 10,000 lbs Iron Grip/ Ivanko Plates
• 2 Tons of Custom Logo Stainless Handle UMax Dumbbells
• 14 Dynamic Multi-Adjustable Benches
• 4 Dynamic Glute/Ham Benches
• 4 Dynamic 300lb. Pulldown/Low Row Pulley Machines
• 2 Rogers Pendulum Hip Press Machines
• 1 Quad/Hamstring/4-Way Hip Machine
• Custom Mackie Sound System/ Swann Surveillance System
• 8 Stackable Step Up Boxes
• 12 Custom Speed Sleds
• 3 Sets of Plyometric Boxes
• 20 Dynamax Medicine Balls
• 12 Slam Balls
• Chains, Bands, Ropes, Physio Balls, Airex Pads, Foam Rollers, Etc.
Training Room Upgrades
• Light Therapy
• Thermostim probe
• X-5 Soft Tissue Oscillation
• 15-watt Laser
• Mutliple Grafton Tool Sets
• Digital Diagnostic System
• Normatec Equipment
• Additonial Blood-flow Restriction Units