Varsity is the free Official Online Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.
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BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Facilities serve as signs of our progress W henever I stop to see the progress that has made to the football weight room in the north end of Camp Randall Stadium, I'm reminded of how far we've come and how badly we needed it. We had become so accustomed to what we had ― however limited and outdated ― and we were very efficient in using the available space in the McClain Facility. We had conditioned ourselves to make the best of it. Now put yourself in the shoes of an 18-year-old recruit. If you compared what we had a year ago in the old weight room to what we have today ― and what we can offer when all the machines and weights are in there ― it would be a dramatic difference. That doesn't mean you're going to get better results. Your players are going to have work just as hard as they did in the old room. But it's going to have an impact on recruiting. It's all pretty cool and we don't have to take a backseat to anyone. What we have now is very unique, including a Badger Alley Bistro where you can buy a bowl of soup and sandwich. We haven't determined the hours, but it's going to be open to the public. One of the aspects to the new weight room is the nutrition area. The lounge is set up so the players can come in and have a protein drink from their own juice bar. A lot of people ― and a lot of schools ― don't realize the impor16 » VARSITY APR I L 4, 2013 tance of nutrition on a student-athlete. We've always been well ahead of the curve. John Dettmann, who worked as my strength coach for many years, has always been on the cutting edge and he has basically been the point man for everything we're doing with nutrition. John has always been cutting edge and a very big contributor to all of our sports. He has spent a lot of time researching and studying nutrition. There's so much to it. What we're trying to do is develop good habits; we're trying to educate our athletes on nutrition and give them a life lesson: Here's how to shop, here's what to eat, here's what not to eat. We're probably one of the few schools that talk to recruits about nutrition when they come here. We give them a presentation on what they should be looking for; what's healthy and what's not. We have come so far since my playing days at Nebraska. When I got there, we had a universal gym. Nobody was into free weights or weightlifting and nobody was into nutrition. I was a classmate of Boyd Epley, the first guy ever hired to be a strength coach for a football team. Bob Devaney was skeptical about weight training until he met Epley, a former pole vaulter. Nebraska was really ahead of everybody else with their out-ofseason program. Our new football strength coach, Evan Simon, has a different philosophy from what we've had here in the past. He's more into stretching, and it seems as though our kids have really taken to it. Evan is a really sincere guy and the kids can read that in him. He's out for their best welfare and he has a plan for what we're going to do, and how we're going to do it. There are a lot of different ways to get the job done. The bottom line is that the plan is sound and everybody buys into it and that has been happening. During our ongoing Camp Randall and McClain construction, everybody has been moved around and disrupted. But they've all hung in there because they knew good things were coming. I'm reminded of that every time I step into our new weight room.