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Athletic training facility enhances health care for student-athletes

by Kimberly Folkes

The Virginia Tech Department of Sports Medicine is an ever-changing and developing unit that strives to provide the most current and comprehensive care to all student-athletes. Managing the health care is a professional staff comprised of primary care physicians who are board-certified in family medicine and sports medicine, orthopaedic surgeons, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, sports psychologists, nutritionists, and orthotists.

Under the leadership of Gunnar Brolinson, D.O.; Delmas Bolin, M.D.; and Mike Goforth, director of athletic training, the sports medicine department is constantly evolving to incorporate new ideas and state-of-the-art resources for the betterment of student-athletes. As part of the evolution, Tech recently completed the 4,300-square-foot Eddie Ferrell Memorial Training Room. Named for a popular athletic trainer who served at Tech from 1971 until his death in 1998, this new state-of-the-art area consolidated the four training rooms that previously existed in the Merryman Center and Cassell Coliseum. The new facility gives the training staff a centralized location to care for the needs of all Virginia Tech student-athletes.

The project was conceived nearly three years ago by Director of Athletics Jim Weaver, Senior Associate Athletics Director Sharon McCloskey, and Associate Athletics Director for Internal Affairs Tom Gabbard. After researching numerous concepts, administrators decided that Goforth would have nearly complete control over the equipment, layout, and design of the space. Rarely in the athletic training profession does a trainer have free rein in designing facilities, but allowing Goforth to do so ensured that the new facility would be as efficient and functional as possible to both the trainers and student-athletes.

To start, Goforth compiled more than 50 opinions from Division I and NFL colleagues and researched the pros and cons of many athletic training rooms across the country. His goal was to create a training facility that was practical and tailored specifically to Virginia Tech's needs.

"Before, we had four different training rooms and the continuity just wasn't there," Goforth says. "Some had better equipment, more resources, and even just looked better than the others. Now all of the athletes have the same and equal treatment that could only be accomplished by having one big training room for all sports."

The end result of the nearly $700,000 project is a much larger, more unified training facility equipped with all of the latest medical and training technology. Some of the equipment purchased for the new facility includes a constantly filtered in-ground hot and cold tub that never requires ice or hot water, an underwater treadmill, and a Biodex machine that measures the torque in an athlete's knee and the power and speed of an athlete. There are also new ultrasound machines and a host of other evaluation and treatment devices.

"I think the biggest thing, bigger than any single piece of equipment, is that the new technology is putting us in a position as a staff to provide the absolute best service," Goforth says. "This puts us all in a training facility together for a more efficient and effective use of our resources and, in turn, better care for our student-athletes."

Kimberly Folkes is an intern in the Virginia Tech sports information office.