Today was a groundbreaking day for the NJ state university as Rutgers has embarked on a partnership with RWJBarnabas Health, which will lead to the building of the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University. A groundbreaking ceremony was held today to usher in this new resource at Rutgers University.
RWJBarnabas Health will now be exclusive health care provider for Rutgers Athletics as athletes will be able to make use out of the new practice facility.
“One of the great things about athletics is that you have those moments, particularly in a game when you're on the sideline, where you feel that chill when something special is happening,” RU athletic director Pat Hobbs said today. “I got that today when I came here and walked out to see the preparation and believe this is happening. If you can't get emotional about a day like this, then you need to find something else to do. So you'll see me smiling all day long because this is real.”
The facility will be located next to The RAC and serve as a practice facility for a variety of RU athletic programs.
“We are in one of the best conferences in the country. We are one of the best public Universities academically,” said men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell. “And now we are building a world class athletic performance facility.”
This new facility has already weaved its way into Pikiell’s recruiting pitch.
“I’ve already been using it,” Pikiell said. “We have the renderings. We started the process with renovating our locker room and then this is the next phase of it. I’m just really excited that Pat (Hobbs) and Sarah (Baumgartner) were able to get this done. There is a lot of work and a lot of phone calls and things that go into getting a facility like this. And to be able to partner with great healthcare now, that’s just perfect for athletic performance, for healthcare of your student-athletes. We take care of our student-athletes here at Rutgers and this is just another big symbol.”
Meanwhile, women’s head basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer will be able to make use out of the facility as well.
“It’s amazing. We knew the importance of a facility like that,” Stringer said. “To see this come to fruition and shovel the dirt, it makes me want to start building the building myself. It’s a great time for all us in athletics, but also certainly the state. We have to be so proud. It’s a state-of-the-art facility and one that long before an athlete would even consider a scholarship, they want to come and see this facility. It’s a proud moment for all of us.”
While each of the RU’s basketball programs can stand to benefit from this facility, the No.10 nationally-ranked RU wrestling team has already set the bar for RU athletics. Adding this facility can only serve to enhance what has already become an elite program.
“It’s certainly a big day,” said RU head wrestling coach Scott Goodale. “It reminds me of the day we found out we were going to be in the Big Ten. There is so much excitement of the possibilities of what can happen here with this new facility. I don’t think many people understand the whole recruiting outlook and what this does for recruiting and attracting the best kids. Ultimately, in wrestling, you don’t want a kid just looking for a facility, but the ability to wrestle in a room where you don’t have to worry about splitting practices and making sure our guys are safe.
“That is super, super important. It’s a state-of-the-art facility. It is huge for us. We like The Barn. The Barn is our place, but just to be able to get out of there, it’ll be good. We’ve outgrown it. The type of guy we have brought in needs this facility.”
Below are some renderings of the future RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University courtesy of RU Athletics.