Fieldhouse facilitates health, future

Like knowing when to expect the big hop of a sharp ground ball to a third baseman, the weather in Michigan can be unpredictable. Student athletes at Saginaw Valley, however, have the means to prepare for both with the Ryder Center’s indoor facility.

Following its construction last year, athletes have found a multitude of uses for the fieldhouse, and the program has, as a result, improved itself. It seems that, given the indecisiveness of Mother Nature, having the ability to practice inside gives athletes at SVSU a leg up on their competition.

The Valley Vanguard

Vanguard photo | Jamie Loubert

Members of the SVSU football team participate in drills inside the indoor facility. Aside from being a location for teams to practice, the fieldhouse allows student athletes to stay healthy. Being one of two such indoor tracks in Michigan also helps in recruiting, as athletes can see how much the school supports the athletic program.

First-year head baseball coach Chris Ebright noted that the facility’s size allows for the team to prepare for everything they might face in a live game from within the comforts of the indoors.

“We do everything that you would do in outdoor practice,” he said. “We can even hit fly balls to our outfielders.”

Ebright added that being able to prepare early in the year allows the team to come into the season ready to play.

“We should be game ready by the time of our spring trip,” he said. “In January and February, there’s only one other school in the state that can do that, so we should be more prepared than other division-2 schools.”

Not only does the facility offer athletes an early start to the season that other schools might not be able to enjoy, but it also goes the extra mile by providing many health benefits.

Assistant track and cross country coach Angelina Ramos spoke of the immense conveniences yielded by having such a facility.

“A key part of our sport is injury prevention, and the faster you run, the warmer your muscles have to be,” she said. “Each of our groups have to be able to warm up somewhere where it’s warm, and the fact that we have the indoor park allows them to do that.”

Ramos added that the indoor space allows athletes to work on explosive activities like jumping with soft landings that help reduce injuries. Moreover, Ramos said that the design of the 300-meter track allows for easy turns that do not put too much stress on the runners’ hips. She also mentioned protection against the cold weather and the necessity of being able to practice in the indoor confines during the winter.

“With our distance crew, if they’re breathing in temperatures lower than 15 degrees for longer than 20 minutes it can be very unhealthy for the lungs,” she said. “So while they do a three-mile warmup and a three-mile cool down outdoors, everything else they do can be healthy in the indoor facility.”

Dan Fodrocy, an SVSU assistant football coach, noted that being able to have scheduled times for the athletes to use the facility allows the team — coaches and players — to relax and not have to constantly worry about whether they will be practicing.

“Knowing we can go inside in inclement weather, or at this time of year because of snow and ice on the field, makes it much better to organize for the coaches as well as just keeping the players on a consistent schedule,” he said.

In addition to the health benefits provided, the university itself has been able boast about having one of two such facilities in the state, meaning recruiting has taken an enormous jump.

“There’s only two 300-meter indoor tracks in the state of Michigan — we have one and Grand Valley has one,” Ramos said. “Every coach can tell their athletes and other coaches that we have the nicest training facility and it makes kids want to come here and be a part of our university.

“It’s a great recruiting tool.”

Ramos added that being able to host events for all sports allows the university to showcase the facility. Additionally, coaches from around the state have labeled the the track as one of the nicest around.

“Kids see that we have a division-one level facility, and that speaks highly of the university’s priorities and that they are willing to push for a healthy and active culture and lifestyle,” she said.

Given all of the positives stemming from having such a facility, it goes without saying that the preparation opportunities provided have done their part in helping the athletic program on the field of play. Ramos said that she has seen a direct correlation between the erecting of the facility and the results that have followed.

“I think that it has helped translate into more success than we’ve ever had,” she said. “Our women finished 16th in indoor nationals, and that is the highest finish the team has ever had. Some of that has been due to the ability to train in that facility and keeping everybody healthy.”

This entry was posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2015 and is filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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