UHV opens new training room to strengthen health of student-athletes

Head trainer Thomas Pribyl demonstrates how a trampoline is used to help University of Houston-Victoria student-athletes work on their balance. The trampoline is one of several pieces of equipment purchased with a Johnson Foundation donation for UHV’s new Athletic Training Room. The public can view the new UHV Athletic Training Room during a Victoria Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

When Rajan Ghag first arrived from England to attend school and play soccer at the University of Houston-Victoria in 2011, there was no dedicated athletic training room.

“At first, we had to perform treatment outside or in a hallway corridor,” UHV head trainer Thomas Pribyl said. “Then we used two rooms at the Jaguar Court residence hall. We’ve come a long way in the past three years.”

Athletic training now has a home of its own. The new 2,400-square-foot UHV Athletic Training Room will open next week in the back of the Totah Building, 3402 N. Ben Wilson St., which also houses the UHV Small Business Development Center and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Much of the equipment in the room was purchased using a $69,800 contribution the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation gave in 2011.

“When I walked in the door for the first time, I was speechless,” Ghag said. “It looks like a professional team’s training room. There’s a large amount of space, top equipment and different sections for stretching, icing and cardio. It’s a big transformation.”

The chamber will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the athletic training room at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The ceremony is open to the public.

UHV Athletics Director Ash Walyuchow said the room will help athletic trainers provide better care for student-athletes and assist recruiting new athletes to UHV.

“I think it’s one of the best facilities in this area and in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics,” Walyuchow said. “It even rivals some NCAA facilities that I’ve seen. This gives student-athletes space to stretch and get their muscles in condition. Preventing injuries is as much of a goal as treating injuries. We can now provide the best of both worlds.”

The space formerly was used for storage by the UHV Facilities Department. Remodeling was done this spring. TBC Commercial Construction of Portland was the general contractor on the approximately $200,000 project.

UHV began buying the equipment with the Johnson Foundation donation late in 2012. Some of the equipment was used at Jaguar Court, but much of it had to be placed in storage until the new training room was ready.

“The Athletic Department would like to extend a big thank you to the Johnson Foundation,” Walyuchow said. “The foundation provided us with the ability to purchase top-notch, cutting-edge equipment that will keep our student-athletes healthy and happy.”

The facility has several training tables and taping stations. There is a variety of exercise equipment, along with weights and ice baths. There’s even room for storage and laundry facilities.

“If an athlete comes in to get his ankle taped, he can get it done without disturbing anyone who is doing rehabilitation or treatment,” Pribyl said. “We weren’t necessarily looking for anything big; we just needed space to be functional. With this open space, a lot of student-athletes can use this room at once, which was a luxury we didn’t have at Jaguar Court.”

The facility also has a private examination room, which will be used for physicals. All UHV athletes get a physical before their seasons get underway. Pribyl also plans to conduct cardiac screenings.

“I’m really impressed and pleased with the way the space turned out,” Walyuchow said. “The way the room is laid out provides a good flow for everything that needs to be done. It’s easy access for student-athletes. There’s ample parking. And it has designated areas for wet treatments, which we’ve never had before. It will provide a lot more efficiency for our training staff.”

When an athlete is injured, an initial assessment and first-aid treatment will be performed in the athletic training room. If needed, an athlete is then referred to a physician. Most of the post-injury rehabilitation also will take place in the training room. In addition, athletes can use equipment in the room to improve flexibility, strengthen their core and maintain their shoulders in the case of baseball and softball players.

Pribyl said August through October will be a busy time in the training room with soccer and golf in season and fall softball training. He is anxious to see players’ reactions to the facility, especially the ones who have been at UHV for multiple seasons.

The training room also will serve as a recruiting tool for UHV coaches, Pribyl said.

“When recruits see what is available, it shows the university is standing behind its students,” he said. “We are fortunate for an institution of our size to have a training room of this caliber. It couldn’t have happened without the support of the UHV administration and the Johnson Foundation.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro