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New high-performance centre announced

Another reason not to skip leg day./ Upper Canada District School Board
Another reason not to skip leg day./ Upper Canada District School Board

New facility to provide new opportunities for students and athletes alike

Author: Alex Antoneshyn – Contributor

With the hopes of improving training and educational opportunities for both students and local athletes, the University of Regina announced this spring that it would be building the High Performance Training, Applied Learning and Research Centre.

Now, several months later, the project remains in its early stages but is something that both students and faculty should look forward to. Once finished, the new facility will provide athletes with an improved multidimensional training, individually or as a team, and undergrads the chance to employ the knowledge they have gained from their curriculum in a practical setting.

According to Dr. Harold Riemer, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, the concept of a high-performance facility is over a year old, while official permission for the project was only granted in January of this year. This concept, the dean shared, is “bigger than just renovating the space… The idea is to bring together lots of things that are already in play.” Such elements that already exist and are an active part of the university’s faculty, but are not yet working in optimal coordination, are the areas currently being used as training and physical therapy rooms and the sport labs. These are considered too small and are poorly located within the CKHS building.

The High Performance Training, Applied Learning and Research Centre will be twice the size of the presently-used facility and will feature new, state-of-the-art equipment. Its obvious impact will be on the athletes who it helps prepare for the high performance competitive environment, but also students from the Kinesiology and Health Studies faculty who will be given the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge.

“There is no doubt that this centre will benefit the athletes,” said Dr. Kim Dorsch, a Professor Associate Member of the University of Regina, whose interests lie in high-performance athletics centre on sport psychology.

“While most teams have strength and conditioning services already, the centre may offer a more integrated set of multidisciplinary services (e.g., strength and conditioning, biomechanics, psychological, and nutrition) to better suit their needs. Furthermore, the centre will offer the students of KHS the opportunity to work with high-level athletes in each of these disciplines, consequently taking what they learn in the classroom into the field.”

Not only will students and athletes of the university have access to the facility, but so will high-performance athletes in the local area, said Interim Director of Athletics, Curtis Atkinson.

“It’s important that our faculty is connected with the community.”

Admittedly, a schedule and process by which community athletes will use the facility has yet to be worked out, but Atkinson believes that athletes from both outside and inside the university would benefit from training alongside each other. Dr. Riemer agreed with Atkinson, also adding the future facility would have potential to track research (focused on applied high performance training) money to the university.

The space being referenced is located on the second floor of the CKHS building, between Gyms 1 and 2. Throughout the last couple of decades, it has served multiple purposes: a space for bleachers, a fitness facility, then flex space for the university – even by the computer science faculty as a location for anatomy labs. Renovations of this area, into the new facility, will replace what currently functions as a weight room, which the dean described as inadequate in terms of space and location. The old facility will then be repurposed as a physical therapy room.

Describing the future facility as a “game-changer,” Atkinson expressed the excitement that both he and the faculty feel about the project, especially in terms of further developing U of R athletes. He feels that the facility will enable the school to take better care of its high performance competitors, as they will be “given the best opportunity to succeed”.

Rams Head Coach Mike Gibson echoed this sentiment, saying that the centre would allow “better training for upcoming competitive performance, injury prevention, and [aid in helping athletes] reach their maximum potential.”

Dr. Dorsch, whose involvement with the project has been minimal but who will sit on the advisory board later, would like to see the significance of sport psychology reflected in the project in the form of mental preparation.

“Currently in the sport psychology lab, we have attentional training equipment that assists athletes in multiple object tracking skills, [which is] extremely important for team athletes in particular. I am hoping we would also have this equipment in the new centre.” This is only one of many ways that the new facility could improve team performance.

Additionally, Atkinson believes that the new facility will attract young recruits who are about to graduate. Once finished, the High Performance Training, Applied Learning and Research Centre will be an important factor for high-school students to consider when examining their post-secondary options. Regardless of whether they are an athlete or pursuing an education in the faculty, the University of Regina will soon be able to boast a unique opportunity for future students.

Although the spring announcement estimated that the new facility would be operational for the 2015-2016 academic year, renovations have not yet begun. Dr. Riemer stressed the amount of stages involved in a project of this magnitude, admitting that while the goal to finish for next year is the same, he’s “not sure those timelines are still in play.”

At the end of renovations, the center will have an approximated cost of $300,000-$350,000. The majority of this budget will be devoted to purchasing equipment and covering construction costs. The dean hopes to raise this money externally.

While its completion date is unknown, what is clear is that the arrival of the High Performance Training, Applied Learning and Research Centre has been long awaited by the Kinesiology and Health Studies faculty. Both Dr. Riemer and Atkinson described the university’s facilities as wanting of space and opportunities. That the project is finally being pushed into motion should be credited to Dr. Reimer, said the Interim Director of Athletics. According to Atkinson, “We’re fortunate to have a dean to pursue [this] dream.”

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