Rutgers unveils RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center for its student athletes
Rutgers Athletics unveiled its new RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance facility yesterday. The building will serve as a recruitment tool intended to compete with top-performing Big Ten programs, as it has expansive practice areas for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics, as well as coach and student athlete offices and locker rooms and sports medicine clinical care centers.
The facility was built with funds from Rutgers Athletics’ Big Ten Build campaign, which received donations from more than 4,000 alumni and friends of the University. It will operate under the partnership Rutgers made with RWJBarnabas last year, creating the largest academic health system in the state of New Jersey.
“This will make an extraordinary difference in the lives of our wrestlers, gymnasts and our basketball programs, both men’s and women’s. But really it’ll make a difference in the lives of all of our student athletes, because here is where they will come for their sports medical clinical care, their training, nutrition,” said Athletic Director Pat Hobbs, in an interview with The Daily Targum. “So it is really a 180 for Rutgers Athletics today.”
Hobbs said the facility is a game-changer for his program, as it is the first new building to be built since the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), which was built 40 years ago, he said in his speech at the event.
In another 15 months, Rutgers Athletics will unveil the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center on Busch campus, another facility Hobbs said would be a recruitment game-changer.
Rutgers Athletics has struggled in recent years, with the two top money-making programs — men’s football and basketball — both failing to be top performers in their conference.
University President Robert L. Barchi is hoping the two new facilities will turn things around, as he said during his speech that he has always been told that new facilities were needed to win.
“Now you have to do something with it. I have been hearing for years that to win we need to have new facilities. And now we have new facilities, right, Steve?” Barchi said half-jokingly to men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell, who was sitting behind him at the podium.
The women’s basketball team, led by long-time head coach C. Vivian Stringer, is a program that deserves praise, said Mark Angelson, president of the Rutgers Board of Governors.
Angelson also described the leadership roles Barchi and RWJBarnabas Health president and CEO Barry Ostrowsky played in the facilities creation.
“The two people who are most often recognized for this project, deservedly so, are our two CEOs Barchi and Ostrowsky,” he said.
Arella Guirantes, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and player on the women’s basketball team, said in her speech that the new facility helped her make the decision to come to Rutgers, confirming the University’s hopes for the initiative.
Rutgers had everything she needed in terms of academic opportunities and athletic resources, especially when compared to the facilities at her previous school, Texas Tech University, she said.
“Although the facilities there were elite, it wasn’t enough to keep me there,” Guirantes said. “Ultimately, I decided that Rutgers was my home and where I wanted to be. The skills and resources available here were the best to prepare for my future athletic and professional career.”
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