Well, it is about time! After years of wanting and waiting, the Bellarmine University athletic department has granted their athletes’ wishes of a bigger training room located just beneath the Knights Nation student section. .

After a generous gift  by Bradford T. Ray, the Bradford T. Ray Sports Performance Center finally opened its Knight-embellished glass doors during the Knight of Knights dinner for Bellarmine President’s Society Members on Oct. 7.

Let’s paint a picture of the previous training room. Imagine a semi-large 780-square-foot room with one ankle taping table, three ice baths that were within one foot of six training tables and a small office that only held three of the four trainers’ desks.

Athletes would have to squeeze past their teammates using ice baths, climb over friends who were rolling out their muscles and dodge the trainers as they zigzagged their way through the room in order to administer treatments.

Now let’s venture to the flip side: the glorious 2,500 square foot training room complete with another 2,500 square foot extension of the Knights Strength and Conditioning Department.

The entire facility holds new training tables, four taping tables, separate examination and ice bath rooms and a spacious office for the four trainers to work and collaborate. It also has a turfed area for the conditioning exercises student-athletes participate in during the offseason.

Bellarmine conditioning coach Steve Hartman has not stopped looking at his new area since the ribbon cutting ceremony during Knight of Knights. He said the new performance center shows that Bellarmine is ready to compete.

“I am excited with all of the new stuff we can do with programing for sports performance and return to sport with athletic training, and hopefully, we will add more,” Hartman said.

The trainers used to complain about hearing our loud conversations over the roar of the ice baths, but now, athletes can speak through the pain of ice cold water shooting at their aching muscles in a separate room.

Junior pole vaulter Bridgette Mangold said the separate room is not only good for everyone’s sanity, but also for everyone’s personal safety.

“I like that the ice baths have their own room with a rubber floor,” Mangold said. “The old training room had a slick floor right by the ice baths, and I definitely ate it a few times while getting out (of the tubs).”

The safety of the ice baths is a definite plus, but the sports medicine department is also promoting safety through the use of CuVerro copper, which kills 99.9 percent of bacteria each time a person touches the door handles, handles for the conditioning equipment, light switches or kettlebells.

“I don’t know if many other training rooms have that,” Bluestone said. “We are very fortunate to have the ability to use it and to put it in.”

Overall, has the expansion been a good thing?

It has done nothing but good things since it has opened its doors. It is safer, more accommodating for athletes and gives trainers room to do their jobs.

“But with this new and improved training room and conditioning room, our athletes are definitely getting the real deal. It feels like we’re at a big time school and it’s additions like this that are going to bring in some of the best future recruits,” junior men’s soccer forward Callum Southern said.

As a student-athlete, I could not be more pleased with the changes to Bellarmine athletic training and sports performance. There is finally enough space for us to move around, receive treatment and strengthen our bodies for competition.

While it has been a long-time coming, it is donors like Ray who help not just student-athletes, but who also help the entire Bellarmine community continue its growth.

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