Operational Space A Critical Factor In New WVU Football Training Room

A waterfall along a coal-themed wall decorates one side of the hydrotherapy space in the new WVU football training room

Operational Space A Critical Factor In New WVU Football Training Room

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — “Space…” intones the opening to the iconic Star Trek television show from the 1960s, “The Final Frontier”.

That tagline might well have been running through the head of Dave Kerns, West Virginia’s lead football athletic trainer, when he began compiling his wish list for the new football training rooms in the Milan Puskar Center. Cramped conditions for all aspects of the training operations, from table space for the most basic of operations like taping, through more advanced items like hydrotherapy, and even storage was at a far less than optimal level.

It was just such conditions that led WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons to note that from a football operations facility standpoint, the Mountaineers were last in the Big 12.

Step one in improving that position came with the opening of the new football training area. And just as Captain Kirk contemplated space when embarking on his mission, so to did Kerns, and he’s pleased with what he now has to work with.

“Floor space was huge,” the veteran athletic trainer, who has been at WVU for 24 years, singled out. “We needed space to move around to do some agility rehab.”

The new facility includes that open floor space, which provides room for athletes to work directly under the eyes of the athletic training staff, allowing them to judge progress during rehabilitative efforts. There are also more taping stations and more full length benches, allowing more players to be treated simultaneously, as well as an array of equipment, from stationary bicycles to the latest in treatment and rehabilitation devices, to help in the recovery process.

The most eye-catching area is the hydrotherapy room. Again, space is the key, although a room length-waterfall against a coal-themed background and mood lighting provides a dramatic effect.

“We now have incorporated pools that are 27 feet long and four feet wide,” Kerns said. “We have a medium temperature pool, a cold pool and hot tub.”

Those varying temperature pools aren’t a trendy spa-themed item, however. Their presence and use is based on the ever-evolving science of the athletic training field.

“Recent research is doing some contrasting things with respect to not jumping into a cold pool right after activity,” said Kerns, who has 33 years in the field. Getting in the 64 degree water, then 50 degree water [gives better results. Then there’s contrast with a 100 degree temperature pool and going back and forth. It’s constantly evolving. The technology that goes into the approach has come a long way, and we have to see what evolves and keep up with it.”

The pools’ larger size also benefit in several practical ways.

“We had three foot by three foot tub before, and you couldn’t put too many guys in there,” Kerns observed. “But with the new pools, we can get a lot of them in there at once. “We do see some more camaraderie [with more players in there at once].”

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