When Hunter Renfrow gets done working out in Clemson’s current weight room inside Memorial Stadium, he likes the fact he can see Death Valley. He likes the fact he can kind of envision everything he wants to do on game days.
“You see the stadium and you can dream about it,” the wide receiver said.
That’s about the only negative thing Renfrow can say about the Tigers moving away from the WestZone, which has housed the Clemson football program the last seven years, and into the new football complex this coming January, which will be connected to the indoor practice facility.
Clemson’s new 140,000 square foot facility will be open on January 26, 2017.
“It’s going to be good to have the practice field out there because once we get done working out in the weight room we can step into the indoor (practice facility) and practice,” Renfrow said. “It will be great to have everything over there.
“We don’t have to tram over. It will save some time and practice will not be as long. It’s going to be awesome, so I’m pumped about it.”
Clemson, which currently has to tram its players from the WestZone to the practice fields over by the Jervey Athletic Center, loses about two hours of practice time a week during the regular season and spring and about three hours during fall camp hauling players back and forth.
The NCAA allows student athletes to meet and practice just 20 hours a week when classes are in session.
“We spend a lot this time going from the west end zone to over there, wasting hours a week,” said Thad Turnipseed, the football program’s director of recruiting and external affairs. “It takes 15 to 20 minutes to load the guys here and get them there. You add that two times a day, four times a week. That adds up. That’s a lot of practice time.
“It’s also dangerous crossing that street or if the tram breaks down. There are times when kids don’t wait for the tram and just walk across the street. There are a lot of reasons for the new facility, at least operationally.”
It’s not all about the bells and whistles
When “Dabo’s World,” as the media as affectionately calls it, is complete it will have a slide, it will have a putt-putt course, it will have a bowling alley, it will have a nap room, and it will have a basketball court and outdoor player’s village to go along with a state of the art players’ lounge and a movie theater. But those things are not what this new facility is just about.
Combined, all of those things add up to less than a quarter of a million of the $55 million the facility will cost. The new football complex is more about the functionality of it and tying together the players’ nutritional health with their physical strength, their rehabilitation needs and their overall development as student athletes and people.
“Dabo (Swinney) wanted this facility to be about the players in every aspect,” Turnipseed said.
How does it all work?
Turnipseed visited 26 schools from around the country and he took ideas from those schools, combined them with what Swinney wanted, and put together a facility that no one in the county has or will have for a long time to come.
“I don’t see anybody touching it for a long time,” Turnipseed said. “The size, the space of the building, Paw Journey, the outdoor village … this is just a neat concept.”
The training table
Clemson has had the Paw, its dining area on the second floor of the WestZone, the last four years. It has helped, to a certain extent, monitor players’ diets and gets them eating healthier foods.
In the new football complex, it will continue to do that, but it will take it to another level. When a player checks in each morning, he will first weigh himself and place his index finger in a biometrics reader that will record his weight and send it to a spread sheet that will be on a 70-inch screen monitor in the Paw.
The players’ name will be highlighted in a certain color, which will tell the full-time nutritionist and the coaches and the football support staff what each player is supposed to eat and not eat. Joey Batson, Clemson’s strength and conditioning coach, will be responsible for setting what the ideal weight is for each player.
“We all eat down here so you can’t expect one nutritionist to be able to manage 120 people throughout the day walking through,” Turnipseed said. “If we are down there, it puts accountability on all of us. If I’m down there, and understand how the food will be labeled, we will know what they can and get eat because of the color scheme.”
The Paw will have a self-made smoothie bar, a soup bar, a meat-and-three buffet, a salad bar, a bread bar and an ice cream bar. There are also discussions they will have everyday items like hamburgers, pizza and hotdogs as well.
“That’s for those kids that do not gain weight no matter what they eat, or have to eat more than the typical college kid,” Turnipseed said. “That has been a big debate. What do we put there other than just the meat-and-three?”
The locker room
The Paw will be an open area overlooking the players’ village and will be beside the players’ lounge. From the players’ lounge they can slide, or take the stairs, down to the locker room area.
The locker room is nice and very spacious and is special to the players. This room can only be accessed by the players, the coaches and the football support staff. There will be a steam room attached to the locker room and showers.
“We have a steam room for a lot of reasons,” Turnipseed said. “In November, when it’s a 35-degree day, you’re bone cold by the time you get back in. This is a place where they can come in and get warmed up. It will also help with weight loss and things like that as well.”
The Training room
When Turnipseed traveled the country looking at different facilities, he came across three schools that did some things better than anyone else.
“I thought Tennessee had the best training room. I thought Oklahoma had the best locker room and I thought Alabama had the best weight room,” he said. “So we kind of did each of those areas a little bit better than what each of those schools had. We put that in and then added a little Clemson fun to each.”
Clemson will have a nice plunge pool. What’s a plunge pool?
“Oklahoma was the first one I saw that had an indoor plunge pool off the locker room,” Turnipseed said. “It is 47-degree water. We require the players to get in that plunge pool for 15 minutes after every practice to get the acids out of their muscles. This helps them recover quicker. It will be taking the place of the big tubs that you see players sitting in these days.”
From the plunge pool you go to the treatment area. This is an area where Clemson is really proud of and where the new facility will take it up another notch.
It will be called the “Aquatic Rehab Area.” In this area Clemson will have a 10-foot wide by 60-foot lap pool that players will use for rehabilitation purposes.
“There is a normal swimming pool where you could walk down this ramp or swim on. You could run or swim in a regular swimming pool,” Turnipseed said.
In this same area, Clemson will have the hydro-therapy area, which is what will set the Clemson training room a part from any other.
“We have two of these rehab treadmills that go under water. They are as nice as any that is on the market,” Turnipseed said. “They can walk on it at floor height, and then they can be lowered down.
“If you have a knee injury or a back injury, they can take you all the way up to your neck and take all the weight off your body so you can just move your feet. As you get better, they raise the treadmill out of the water.”
The standard hot and cold tubs will also be located in this area as well as offices for head trainer Danny Poole, the team doctor, exam rooms, an X-ray room and the standard treatment tables for wrapping and tapping.
The weight room
After the player leaves the training room, he will walk through what will be called the “Tiger Fuel and Nutrition Bar” which Gatorade is providing. That will lead players into the weight room, which will be connected to the Indoor Practice Facility.
“That’s what will make our weight room unique,” Turnipseed said.
Clemson took the old training room that was located in the indoor facility and will make it the NFL Scout Room.
“When the scouts come to Clemson, they can be comfortable. We want the scouts to come to Clemson so now they will have the nicest pro scout room in the country,” Turnipseed said. “They can actually look through the window and see the guys working out and look through the other window and see guys out on the practice fields.”
Batson’s office, as well as other athletic training coaches’ offices, will be located in the weight room and beside Batson’s office will be a sand pit area for players to work out in as well. There will also be a state of the art equipment room.
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