SUNY Cortland Upgrades Athletic Training Facility

A recently completed facility renovation will benefit SUNY Cortland’s athletic training program by providing state-of-art space for a discipline that bridges the university’s strong reputation in academics and athletics.

The $1 million project brings an open concept, new hydrotherapy equipment, and fresh wall graphics to the John L. Sciera ’52 Athletic Training Room located on the first floor of Park Center.

cortlandThe upgrade also marks the first comprehensive renovation of SUNY Cortland’s athletic training facility since the program was established in 1975, nearly a half-century ago, and it provides the modern space necessary for the university’s recently established master’s program.

“From a facilities standpoint, we wanted to set ourselves apart at the graduate level,” said Trisha Donnelly, an athletic trainer who helped guide the four-year project along with Bob O’Malley, head athletic trainer. “This entire process had vision and purpose and we owe a lot of credit to the many people who supported it — campus leadership, the facilities team, and other departments sharing space nearby.”

Donnelly said a trademark of SUNY Cortland’s athletic training educational experience involves faculty members who work with the university’s Division III student-athletes in addition to teaching classes. The new space offers more than 1,700 square feet of open area for both education and treatment.

“Our athletic trainers teach critical courses, and our students can actually see them practice what they preach through their service,” Donnelly said. “We see that as one of our biggest strengths.”

Over the past 40-plus years, as team rosters grew in numbers, smaller and separated rooms filled athletic training needs such as taping before competition and injury rehabilitation. The renovation reimagined the athletic training operation by removing a concrete wall and swapping space with the Physical Education Department — essentially providing more than 1,000 square feet.

The project also brought the addition of two new hydrotherapy tubs from Grimm Scientific Industries and a shared space for new treatment tables, taping stations, and rehabilitation equipment. Cosmetic improvements incorporate Cortland’s Red Dragon imagery and the Athletics Department’s “One Team, One Family” motto.

“One open space allows us to utilize our facilities better for our student-athletes and also adhere to educational standards and full supervision requirements,” said Donnelly, explaining that the work was informed by expectations of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the field’s accrediting body.

SUNY Cortland’s two-year, full-time graduate program in athletic training welcomed its first students in 2020 after professional certification requirement changes. The new main space follows the renovation of an athletic training classroom on Park Center’s second floor, which includes recording technology to assist hands-on lab work and a reserved area for a wellness corner that will allow students to focus on mental health needs.

“The nice thing about the classroom is that it’s a dedicated space and our students can come in and practice whenever they want,” Donnelly said.

The new main facility will continue to be named in honor of Sciera, a former head athletic trainer who led Cortland’s program into national prominence, and the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Hall of Fame will remain on display a short walk down the hall in Park Center.