Pretty soon there will be a lot of activity going on down in West Virginia University’s brand new $2.6 million donor-supported Milan Puskar Center weight room nearing completion.
WVU Director of Strength and Conditioning Mike Joseph estimated that about a month’s worth of finishing work still remains before Mountaineer players will have full access to it.
“We have been anticipating the day that we can use this for a long time,” said Joseph. “There are a lot of people who contributed to this and it’s a process that has been a long time coming, but when it’s done it is definitely going to be an outstanding facility.”
According to Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen, the new strength and conditioning center will put West Virginia on par with the rest of the programs in the Big 12.
Joseph says a slight extension toward the field has helped expand the weight room from approximately 24,000 square feet under the previous setup to nearly 26,000 square feet when it will be completed in late July.
“Before we had a lot of dead space and bad space and now there is not an area in here that cannot be used,” Joseph explained.
Aside from the slight addition, the biggest change is the removal of the staff offices that were once located in the middle of the training area – those will now be situated along the far wall close to the visiting team’s locker room. Moving the offices has opened up a large area in the middle of the weight room where players have room to assemble before workouts and also before games.
According to Joseph, on game days, instead of running out from the tunnel along the press box side of the stadium, the Mountaineers will now enter from the weight room in the middle of the field where fans will get a much clearer view of the players.
“Some of the lighting in here will allow us to give it sort of a tunnel effect when the players are about to take the field,” said Joseph, noting that the flooring will have the ability to change colors and assimilate yard markers when the players walk through the weight room on game days.
Most of the equipment used in the past will be situated in similar areas; the in-lay platforms and power racks will remain near the team locker room and weight training apparatuses and machines in their similar locations, with treadmills stationed at just about every wall surrounding the facility. On the far wall toward the field, Joseph has reserved a space to honor all of the Iron Mountaineer performers recognized by prior WVU strength and conditioning staffs through the years.
There will also be a display for West Virginia’s past and future consensus All-American players. And prominently highlighted in the open space just below the Reynolds Family Academic Support Center will be four gold, lighted columns each having one of these four words: Team, Strength, Intent and Discipline.
“The graphics have really improved the area aesthetically. The biggest thing is our weight room is now a showpiece for the program and it helps us with recruiting,” said Joseph.
Another unique feature is a 40-yard track that will enable the strength staff to focus on speed and agility work at any time of the year. Joseph noted that there are very few college weight training facilities that he is aware of with a running surface similar to the one Mountaineer players will be using that is located right in the weight room.
The side wall closest to the athletic training room will have a full service nutrition center and flat-screen televisions will be located throughout, as well as a state-of-the-art sound system that is a must for all weight training facilities to help get the guys pumped up for high-energy workouts.
“In terms of efficiency and in terms of us being able to get things done, this is going to be one of the best in the country,” Joseph proclaimed.
Joseph said he has visited a lot of weight rooms around the country through the years and he incorporated some of the ideas that he liked from those into the space the Mountaineer players will soon be occupying.
“I think this is the best setup,” he admitted. “Every strength coach has their own preferences of what they like, but this is the best way for us to train our athletes in terms of my philosophy and how we do things. Overall, it will be a great situation for us.
“The guys are kind of anxious to get down here and prove that they are worthy of this facility and that West Virginia football is continuing in the right direction,” Joseph concluded.