Athletics proposes strength center construction

The Tennessee Tech Strength and Conditioning department is looking forward to a proposed makeover and eventually a new facility.Head strength coach Chip Pugh has worked on improving the system since coming to Tech in 2006.

“The goal is to progress the program to be at the top of the OVC”, said Pugh, who has also held strength positions at Ohio and Winthrop Universities as well as at Marietta College.

The Tech Athletics department put together a campus-wide plan to remodel and upgrade many of the athletic facilities in 2005.

The plan started with replacing the turf on Overall Field and has continued through to its current phase with the expansion of the basketball offices in the Hooper Eblen Center.

The next step in the plan is geared toward a facility that all of the athletes will benefit from.

Associate Athletics Director for Development Grant Swallows revealed, “We also have a proposed strength and conditioning center next to the Hooper Eblen Center.”

The center will be located just to the south of the Hoop.

“It’s a 10,000 square feet state-of-the-art facility,” Swallows said, “with the things that we need to compete in the OVC.”

The current facility has many faults including size and stability.

“The facility here is too small,” Pugh said, “In this facility, we can only train about 30-35 athletes at a time.”

“Our goal is to train at least 60 athletes at one time in the new center. ”

Pugh is currently forced to divide the football team into four sessions to complete their training. With the new facility, he could train them all at once.

Swallows agreed saying, “we need a bigger and better facility than we’ve got right now.”

Pugh was also concerned about the stability of the center, saying “It is on the third floor, which is not conducive to heavy power and strength exercises.”

The football offices are located just under the strength center, which constantly has athletes lifting extreme amounts of weights. The whole area shakes at times when the athletes are doing such exercises as power cleans.

Water is also an issue to the facility.

“It leaks, in fact at times, it floods,” said Pugh. “There are buckets and trash cans hanging from the ceiling to catch the falling water on rainy days.”

Pugh and head softball coach Tory Acheson did their best to control the porous situation by installing their own guttering system on the inside.

Large tin panels line the ceiling, catching the water and transporting it to the inside wall where a gutter system then carries it outside and away from the equipment. At times, the staff must use a water vacuum to clean up the water that pools in the area.

The current center is equipped with two large heaters in either corner of the room. There is no air conditioning, which makes training during the summer sessions all the more difficult.

Pugh and his graduate assistants have brought in small fans to help circulate the air. Two large garage-type doors were installed this past summer in order to create a breezeway when the three small windows on the other end are opened.

As far as cost goes, the estimated 1.5 to 2 million dollars will come from private donors.

“I am actively out soliciting folks to get involved in the strength and conditioning center,” said Swallows. “That is our number one priority in the athletics department from a fundraising standpoint right now.”

“We’re at least a year away, maybe two or three,” Swallows projected, then stressed the importance of the project saying, “We want to get something done soon”.

The center is important for the growth of the entire athletics department, seeing as though it is a vital part of every athlete’s development in their programs.

Pugh stated, “Recruiting and logistics are extremely important and both of those things are not addressed by the current situation, but will be in the new one.”

Swallows, who set many records as a quarterback for the Golden Eagles, said that a great strength and conditioning facility is “important for recruiting athletes.”

As a coach at Livingston Academy, he related, “These kids have better weight rooms in high school than what we’ve got here.