2021 Rutgers Making a Champion Guide

The new APC has generated a number of positive outcomes related to the student-athlete experience. The study’s findings center on how the building supports the sense of community among the student-athletes, the connection to the greater Rutgers University campus, and improved athletic performance. Sense of Community One of the most significant impacts of the APC has been how it has increased connections between student-athletes. Among teammates, the opportunity to strengthen these connections “off the court” have come from the creation of spaces to gather and socialize. Living room- style lounges, with big screen TVs and kitchens, in the locker room suites are a favorite place to watch TV, play video games, and just relax. The all-hours access to the facility allows the student-athletes the opportunity, at any time, for individual practice sessions, pick-up games, or workouts. Connections across the four sports that use the building have also been strengthened. The Nutrition Center, in particular, has become a central gathering point for many sports on the campus—even those not housed by the APC. “The APC allows [the Women’s Basketball team] to eat together with the wrestlers and the gymnasts; we’ve become much closer,” says Women’s Basketball Coach C. Vivian Stringer. “It’s a beautiful thing to see—everyone eating and talking and communicating.” Beyond socializing, perhaps the best illustration of the inter-team connections is an encounter staged by Women’s Gymnastics Coach, Umme Salim-Beasley, before the start of the pandemic. To simulate the pressure of competition, Coach Salim-Beasley invited members of the Men’s Basketball team to provide “crowd noise” during balance beam practice. The presence of the basketball players unsettled the gymnasts, affecting their routines and triggering nerves like they might feel during a competition. Not only did this allow the gymnasts to learn to work through those nerves, but the experience also built connections across the two teams. Later, the gymnasts were invited to visit the Men’s Basketball practice to reciprocate during free- throw practice. Typically, intercollegiate practice facilities are program-focused and individualized to their sport(s)—where student-athletes spend countless hours that are highly scripted and focused to the limits of practice and school work. The comradery within teams and, uniquely, between teams at the APC is rare and unique, and deepens the student-athletes’ intercollegiate experience. S T U D E N T- A T H L E T E E X P E R I E N C E 7 Perkins Eastman