Sneak Peek of Cal's new High Performance Center (Part 2 of 3)


Our tour of the Student Athlete High Performance Center (SAHPC) continues with an exploration of the interior of the building. We checked out the exterior in yesterday's post. It's important to keep in mind that this is an active construction site and so much of what we will see is unfinished, but there are many places where things have been finished (including most of the painted and concrete surfaces). You'll see lots of wires and framing for all the fixtures that will be installed, but most of that stuff is coming in last. The pace of construction is frenetic. A university official informed me that with the CMS renovation the department is spending $10 Million a month on construction which is twice what a major capital project typically costs at Cal (this should give you a sense of the enormity of the project not "waste"). Speed and timeliness is priority (especially for the stadium). And while the stadium will not be done come September 1st 2012, they are certainly planning on playing their first game at Memorial (there just may be some pieces still being installed come the Nevada game). But THIS September will see the opening of the "Simpson Center." So let's take a look inside!


The SAHPC is so massive it is very easy to get lost. Further, since the pictures are taken indoors there isn't going to be good reference. So I will include floor plans with the location and direction of the shot when appropriate. It also helps to understand that the SAHPC is GENERALLY divided into three main sections.



The Blue section is the football wing (two floors) and the Green section is the Olympic wing (four floors). The yellow section is the High Performance Core area that houses the weight room, MRI, performance staff, dining hall and academic centers. The high performance core is shared by all team members.

**Caveat for today: due to the size of the post and the many many pictures available, we are only covering the Olympic sports wing and the high performance core today. Football will be coming in another post soon (email your local CGB mods to get the publish date bumped up)!


Olympic Wing

What is immediately striking about these corridors is the sheer amount of natural light that comes streaming in. At this point these corridors are not augmented with the artificial lighting fixtures that will make it even brighter.

This is largely attributable on the third floor to the skylights that will be in place in the hallways! Where there are currently holes above, plate glass floors will be installed allowing the light from the huge windows above to come pouring in. We noted these big windows during our exterior tour yesterday.



Even the interior rooms get windows that let in tons of light:

Along the spine of the SAHPC is a utility corridor that will mostly be used by maintenance staff and not student athletes. However, you can see how bright the artificial lighting will be here in the depths of the building. Even though it is very much underground, the SAHPC will not be a dark place when complete


Women's Olympic Equipment Room

The women's locker room is on one floor and the men's on another floor. Both are nearly identical in footprint and share similar amenities and styling. Both the Olympic men’s and women’s equipment rooms have cubbies where athletes can check in and out equipment and uniforms.  It’s important to note that the center provides top-of-the-line services not just for the major revenue sports, but for the many stellar programs located at the Simpson Center (Women's Lacrosse, Rugby, Field Hockey, M&W Crew, M&W golf, M&W Soccer, M&W Gymnastics, Softball, and the Dance team).  While some of the programs will remain at Haas or at other facilities, those programs that do relocate to Simpson will find they have full use of excellent training, laundry & equipment, and medical amenities:



Academic Resource Suite

The academic resource suite is conveniently located right by the main stairwell providing both easy access to the study areas and excellent natural light. This is a really cool room with beautiful details. Wouldn't mind studying here at all!

Athletes traditionally have headed to central campus in order to get tutoring and other academic resources.  While the trek isn’t necessarily excessive, for the athlete on a tight schedule with only an hour and a half window in the afternoon, even a ten-minute walk each way can matter.  The Simpson Center addresses that issue by providing academic facilities on-site, so that athletes can maximize their free time when studying and be encouraged to fit in a study break whenever feasible.  Not a surprise considering the Athletics Department has made student-athlete graduation a top goal of theirs.



Men's Olympic Sports Locker Rooms

We didn't get to see every locker room but I did note that Rugby has its own locker room and their lockers have electronic keypad locks.

The Men's Crew locker room has the same beautiful wooden cabinetry as the other teams:

Just down the hall from all the locker rooms are the showers. These are pretty standard locker room showers:



The center’s planners took care to provide top-notch aqua therapy facilities, with plenty of cold pools strategically located near locker room and training facilities.  Post-performance, training or therapy, athletes at the center are never far from a thermal plunge pool to aid in recovery and healing.



The High Performance mantra doesn’t just pertain to the athletes and their programs, and is being applied to the Athletic Department itself. Recognizing that medical services are a key part of athletic training and performance and that such services are major cost drivers for programs, the department has taken the decision to on-site a number of medical services, saving athletes and programs amounts in time and money.  Services such as X-ray and MRI facilities, sports injury, and maybe even more traditional health care will be provided at the Center for year-round use.


Not only is there the traditional aqua equipment common to college training facilities, the center will have aqua exercise and training pools, fully stocked with underwater cameras and controllable jets, to help analyze injuries and recovery, and better train athletes for performance.


High Performance Core

The pic above is of the high performance core facing south from the very north corner. Note the immense length and size. Tedford is having a 15x30 patch of field turf installed on the North end (near in the photo) of the core so that athletes can train with sleds and work on agility drills in a functional environment.


View from the South end looking north. Note the large white areas on the wall. These I think will be used for posting motivational images.


The core also has a fitness studio with wood floor that can be used for Yoga, ballet, Pilates, and a variety of core enhancing exercises.


Note all the natural light flooding through and the high-tech futuristic look of the paneling in the ceiling.

3D Rendering of the workout pods:

Dining and Nutrition Complex


On the second floor the windows above are the windows that look down on the High Performance Center' core from the dining room area. Unfortunately, we didn't have the chance to tour the dining area but we did get a very good overview of the nutrition program. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the new Simpson Center, with its state-of-the-are facilities, does not by itself represent the full extent of the High Performance Initiative.  Rather, HPI plans to impact student athletes in innovative ways.


One area where we were given a glimpse into that exciting future was in athlete nutrition.  While we didn’t get a great look at training table and dining facilities, our tour guide – a former Cal swimmer herself – told us a little about what was being planned, and how it linked to the center. 


Nutrition is fundamental to high performance, yet for many years athletic programs had limited access to a student-athlete’s diet and nutritional status.  HPI changes much of that.  By utilizing the latest in technology, coaches and trainers will have a much more accurate picture of each athlete’s nutritional stats.  Consumption will be tracked by programs that assess both caloric and nutrient intake.   And that assessment doesn’t just stop at the training table – athletes can any eat anywhere on campus with their dining options integrated into their tracking profiles, via their student cards. Further, they will have access to personal technology that allows them to account for off-campus dining as well.  Information about what, when and how much an athlete eats is automatically processed and analyzed by nutritional staff to give the athlete an up-to-date picture of nutritional targets and deficiencies.


Our guide spoke of the days when she trained as a swimmer, during an era when iron deficiencies were prevalent among female athletes but largely unknown to staff and athletes alike.  With full use of the kind of nutritional technology HPI envisions, the hope is those sorts of issues will be identified and addressed well before they adversely impact an athlete’s health and well-being, let alone performance.  And at its best, individualized and complete nutritional tracking will allow athletes to perform at their optimum.


The hope is to not just more accurately collect data, but to educate the athlete about nutrition in a way that is highly particularized to their needs.  And to provide them all the nutritional resources they need so that they make the right choices, in and out of training season.  A larger and more bountiful dining facility should also help ensure athletes eat in-house, as opposed to relying on Costco largess or, heaven forbid, Durant Avenue dining.



To be continued....

In the next post we cover FOOTBALL!!!!





--All photos by me unless otherwise noted

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