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Athletic training space grows in new complex

In the Dakota Wesleyan University athletic training department, more is better. With the opening of the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, the school has expanded its athletic training space on campus, now with two locations to use and more t...

Dakota Wesleyan senior basketball player Trae Bergh, receives treatment for his ankle inside the new athletic training facility inside the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex as people take part in tours of the facility following the dedication ceremony on Thursday morning in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan senior basketball player Trae Bergh, receives treatment for his ankle inside the new athletic training facility inside the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex as people take part in tours of the facility following the dedication ceremony on Thursday morning in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)

In the Dakota Wesleyan University athletic training department, more is better.

With the opening of the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, the school has expanded its athletic training space on campus, now with two locations to use and more than four times as much room for treating athletes.

"Space is the biggest advantage with this training room," said Jarod Guthmiller, the Tigers' head athletic trainer. "This is obviously going to be more open and more conducive for rehab purposes."

Also included in the 3,500-square-foot training area are 10 treatment tables, three whirlpool tubs, offices for athletic training personnel and a private exam room that will be used by team physicians. The previous training area - which will still be used at the Christen Family Athletic Center - measures about 1,000 square feet.

"It was just so crammed in there and there were people on top of people trying to rehab and get treatment," Guthmiller said. "Now, we have more places for people to receive treatment and, hopefully, that will help everyone."

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Because the previous training room also doubled as a classroom, sometimes it would be used for athletic team meetings. Guthmiller used an example of when athletes were receiving treatment, others were using rehabilitation equipment and the football team was meeting.

"We were making the best of it, but it wasn't a great environment for our athletes," he said.

Lana Loken, the DWU's clinical education coordinator in athletic training, said the first-hand training students get in the program will only be enhanced by the new facility.

"It's all educational," she said. "Our educational experience includes the classroom experience and then the clinical activities, and that's what they're going to be getting here. They take what they learn at the classroom and this is the ultimate hands-on experience.

"Being across from the wellness center and being next to the track, those facilities only expand what we're able to do in rehabilitation of injuries."

Loken said fall is the busiest time for athletic trainers, mostly because athletes from football, men's and women's soccer, volleyball and track and field are practicing at once.

The new facility follows the opening of the Corrigan Health Sciences Center in 2013. The building includes classrooms for athletic training and also labs for chemistry, biology and physics. It is a short walk from the new wellness complex.

"I've been around and have seen a lot of different athletic training rooms," Guthmiller said. "I might be biased, but I think this is right at the top with those that are out there. Just having a facility like this to have and to show to potential students is a great asset for us."

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The building's partners - Avera Queen of Peace and GreatLife - also have a role in helping the training facility get running. Loken said the partnership with Avera helped make the facility possible and also helps to fund two additional part-time staffers in the athletic training program. Guthmiller said there's rehabilitation equipment in the wellness center that GreatLife allows DWU's athletes to use as well.

DWU Athletic Director Curt Hart said the football team will be designated to use the athletic training facilities at the new complex likely for the 2017 season, if not sooner. He said that's likely when the new athletic training space will be getting the most work. He said the new complex could also help facilitate a new master's program in athletic training, a matter that is still being discussed among the school's leaders. DWU has 54 students in its athletic training program during the spring semester.

"We're hoping to move to a master's program in our athletic training program and that would open up our area to more work for students," he said.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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