The Collegian
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Training room for club athletes replacing gym's game room

A new training room for sport-club athletes at the University of Richmond is under construction in the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness and will be completed in April.

Formerly a game room that housed pool tables and Dance Dance Revolution, the new training area will include a few offices, training tables, an ice machine, mailboxes and storage units and space to display sport-club memorabilia and photos, Tom Roberts, assistant vice president of recreation and wellness, said.

Roberts said one of the main draws of the training room was having the necessary resources and a full-time athletic trainer available to sport-club athletes as a way to build the sport-club program.

"When prospective students and families find out that we're giving more money to sport clubs, and when they walk back into that training room, that will seal the deal if they're on the fence," he said. "That will make them say, 'I want my child to come to a place that cares that much about their sport-club athletes.'"

Roberts said, five years ago, the university had started to carve out money for athletic trainers to work with high-risk, sport-club teams such as rugby, lacrosse and ice hockey, and that this year the university staff had approved a full-time athletic trainer.

Sport-club athletic trainer Wendy Sheppard began working at Richmond in November and has since been involved in the decision-making and construction process of the new training room.

She said some of the suggestions she had made included ordering specific furniture she would need, as well as requesting the injury ice machine.

"It looks fantastic back there right now," she said. "I think it's going to be very helpful in the long run. Most of our kids have already expressed a huge interest in me being here and appreciation for it."

Matt Burns, president of all sport clubs and co-president of the ice hockey team, said having an athletic trainer available to him had been very helpful.

"I separated my shoulder a few times this year, so I went to Wendy [Sheppard] to help me out," he said. "She set me up with an appointment at VCU's orthopedic center, and I got X-rays and MRIs and stuff. So it actually worked out really well for me."

Burns said the training room would be beneficial to all sports clubs, especially those that were more competitive.

Roberts said many schools, not just the University of Richmond, had recognized the importance of sport clubs as a way to recruit and retain students.

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"National surveys show that students who participate in sport clubs are more satisfied with their college experience," he said. "I think the university sees the value of sport clubs, and so it's trying to make them more legit by providing the resources for them, and part of it is providing an athletic trainer."

Sheppard said: "It's going to enhance their experience here, because they're representing the university, but they're doing it for the love of the game versus a scholarship. And they deserve the same access to health care and treatment that athletic trainers provide to [varsity] athletes."

Sheppard also hopes to make herself available to students who do not play sports or to gym members who are not part of the immediate University of Richmond community.

Roberts said these services were secondary because of the large number of sport club athletes and the availability of trainers. Sheppard is currently the only full-time trainer at the Weinstein Center.

"That's something that we want to look at doing," he said, "But I think [Sheppard] is optimistic. With anywhere between 600 to 800 sport-club athletes, and when they all catch on that this is available to them, I think she's going to be spread pretty thin."

Sheppard said she had consulted with a couple of non-athletic students, but agreed that her time was more than occupied with the sport-club teams.

"Hopefully that is something that we will continue to develop as I work here, you know, with potential staff and regulation of when the kids are coming in and whatnot," she said.

Although the training room will be completed in April, Roberts said that because most sport clubs would be ending around that time, the staff would use the summer to establish policies, procedures, hours and services.

"Come next fall when the students return, we'll be at full speed," he said.

Contact staff writer Avery Shackelford at

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