MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — More than 300 student-athletes at WVU are enjoying the benefits of the completed Athletic Performance Center, which opened in the fall.
The facility, which formerly housed the natatorium, is now a training hub for all West Virginia Olympic sport athletes, featuring top of the line strength and conditioning equipment, athletic training services, a nutrition fueling station, team locker rooms, various staff offices and more.
Director of athletics Shane Lyons and senior associate athletics director for capital projects April Messerly provided a tour of the facility Tuesday. Lyons said the $10 million renovations to the building, which opened in 1972, have made an immediate impact on student-athletes, who could be seen funneling in and out of the facility during the hour-long tour.
“You get into this business because of student-athletes, and again, we have very high-level performing student-athletes, and how could we make them better? This was part of that formula to say what access do they have to an elite facility,” Lyons said. “So, through time and through vision, it became paramount to saying we needed to get this done for our Olympic sport athletes.”
The renovations both modernized the 50-year-old facility and centralized the overall athletic experience for the university’s Olympic sport athletes. Thanks to its proximity to the Coliseum, Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium and other athletic venues, Lyons said most athletes are a short walk away from anything they’d need, from the weight room to academic services to the training table.
“If you’re training, you’re in close proximity to academic services, you can come here and lift weights, you have the nutrition area, and then obviously, your practice, depending on what sport you are, you’re right next door,” Lyons said.
The 36,500-square foot performance center services all student-athletes who don’t play football, basketball or baseball. Each of those programs has its own, dedicated training space.
The centerpiece of the renovation is the 9,000-square foot training area, which replaced the natatorium and increased the building’s training capacity by nearly 2,000-square feet. Lyons and Messerly noted that 185 cement trucks were used to fill in the pool.
The WVU swimming and diving program now hosts competitions at the Aquatic and Track Complex at Mylan Park, a $48 million facility that opened in 2019.
The updated performance center also features dedicated training areas for the golf and rowing teams.
After migrating from the Coliseum to Evansdale Crossing, the golf studio is now located inside the Athletic Performance Center, featuring a multi-hole practice green and a Trackman golf simulator, which allows athletes to play a virtual round of golf on some of the country’s most popular courses.
The rowing loft is housed above the main weight training area, and features several indoor rowing machines. Previously, the rowing team trained in the Shell Building, sharing that space with CPASS, and had to store its equipment away after each training session.
“This gave us an opportunity to have a permanent space for our rowing team to come up and work out,” Lyons said.
The size of the athletic training area has also been increased, creating more room for rehab and recovery. That space also features a recovery tub with underwater treadmills and underwater cameras, which allow trainers to monitor athletes as they rehab injuries.
In addition, dedicated locker rooms for various teams have been incorporated into this facility, providing a home for teams who previously lacked their own space.
“You looked at some of our sports, rowing, tennis, golf, etc., did not have a locker room space of their own, so that was important when we did this to make sure they had their own locker room space,” Lyons said.
March-Westin served as the general contractor for this facility renovation, and Omni Architects provided architectural services. Lyons said roughly 94 percent of the project’s construction work was completed by West Virginians.
These renovations stem from the Climbing Higher capital campaign, which Lyons unveiled in 2018.