The view from the renovated Nichols Athletic Center—visible through huge windows for those working out in the new state-of-the art exercise room or taking exercise classes in the oversized space next door —stretches past a green hill descending to Vendetti Field and across the adjacent varsity baseball field before disappearing into the surrounding trees.
It’s quite a sight but represents just one eye-catching feature of the year-long, multi-million dollar overhaul and extension of the athletic facility, which now offers expanded locker, weight, and training rooms for members of the school’s nearly two dozen mens’ and womens’ teams.
But the beneficiaries also include Nichols entire student population, who can avail themselves of newly-refinished basketball courts—ringed above by an indoor running track—and the dozens of stationary bikes, stair climbers, elliptical machines, treadmills, and weight lifting stations in the new exercise room, as well as a growing number of group classes in aerobics and dance.
On a weekday morning in early November, about two weeks after the new additions were completed, Nichols Athletic Director Chris Colvin leads the way past a corridor of sports trophies to the new section of the building. In the past several years, Nichols teams have added to the trophy supply, including men’s hockey, men’s basketball, men’s soccer, and men’s and women’s tennis, which all have won recent conference championships.
Colvin says that the redesign of the Athletic Center has heightened the possibilities of Nichols athletics.
“We certainly have the facilities now to match or exceed those of the other schools in our conference,” he insists, as he starts the tour to prove it. “This building will help tremendously in recruiting, especially for the student athletes who have seen facilities at other colleges.”
Colvin’s first stop is the brand new locker room used by the football squad in the fall and other teams later in the school year. The lockers themselves are “pro-style”—more than 50 open, wide wooden structures with shelves. As an added touch, Colvin notes, the lockers were built this past summer in Nichols’ own woodshop.
Nearby a training room is staffed by three fulltime athletic trainers and two graduate assistants, who attend to the physical therapy needs of athletes. Nine training tables make up one half of the room, while an assortment of rehabilitation equipment takes up the other half.
“The new training room is a lot bigger. There are more ice baths,” says freshman hockey player Jensen Wurm, adding that those baths come in handy for hockey’s wear and tear. “I think incoming students would like it. It’s very professional.”
The athletic department has also added a new position to improve the fitness of athletes. Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mike Belanger stands next to the door of the of the new exercise room—twice the size of its predecessor—reviewing a schedule of the teams with which he works two or three times a week.
“We have all the equipment we need for our athletes to become stronger, more powerful, and more durable, and to keep them healthy and on the playing field,” Belanger says.
Freshman basketball player Ariff McLaren already has benefited from that approach. “It gives us a structure for working out, one day on the upper body, one day on the lower,” he explains.
Some of the new construction covers the former site of a swimming pool that went unused for more than 20 years, Colvin says. He points to a small rectangular strip of the pool bottom embedded in the new floor—kept as a memento, he adds, and to show just how far Nichols athletic facilities have come.