KISSIMMEE – Johnson University Florida Athletic and Plant Services staff completed construction of a campus training room, which began in late December, on April 1.
According to Bob Mehlenbacher, a staff member who has held several roles in JUFL history, players have advocated for the training room for 10 to 15 years.
The athletics staff recently decided it was time to make the investment. Since then, athletics and plant services staff have worked together to move the idea into a reality.
Director of Plant Services Jacob Cox undertook construction of the project with his department.
Plant Services has completed renovations before, but this project has been delayed due to more pressing needs on campus.
Despite Covid-19, construction continued with increased caution.
“We [were] just taking extra measures to follow safety and sanitary protocol,” Cox said. “We [had] one person working at a time in there, compared to the two or three on other occasions.”
The approximately 15 by 30 ft. training room, equipped with water-resistant floors, will function as an office for trainers. It holds an ice machine, two ice baths, two tables, and cabinets for items such as tape and rollers.
JUFL Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Coach, Elliot Hernandez, has taken the lead in organizing the renovations.
“We’ve been improving when it comes to the majors: we have more majors and professors.” Hernandez said. “And now with athletics, we are increasing our competitive level. We have more demand when it comes to the athletic department.”
Besides other projects in the future, such as sponsorships, new marketing, professional soccer field maintenance, and possibly a hardwood gym floor, the training room will be a a step forward for the athletics department.
On the ground, it will be an immediate resource for athletes, positioned beside the Chapman Center Gym.
Food Service Manager Bob Mehlenbacher played college basketball at Florida Christian College and later worked as the Resident Director, Athletic Director, Head and Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach and Men’s Soccer Coach.
Mehlenbacher said they first started working with trainers and bringing them to the school when he was Athletic Director, but there was never a centralized training room. Before then, players would tape their own injuries or take trips to the hospital if need be.
“Athletes who played during that time will be happy for the new students and a little bit jealous,” Mehlenbacher said.
Funding has come directly from the athletics department, different JUFL departments, Tennessee, and sponsorships.