Should athletic facilities be open to club sports and ROTC?

A rising desire among ROTC cadets and club sports teams has been to use an adequate weight room other than the Fitness Center, which is open to all students and staff in the University Center. As a cadet who has competed in the Ranger Challenge for our ROTC battalion, the use of a weight room with reinforced floors and rubber plates has become a necessity of which we have been deprived.

Even the wrestling team, who is in the NCAA conference, is not allowed to use any of the athletic fitness rooms. To be more competitive in aspects other than just NCAA sports, it is imperative that we non-NCAA athletes be able to use a weight room suited to our needs.

Olympic-style lifts are the most effective way of preparing for a competition like Ranger Challenge. This physically demanding race tests cadets’ skills, knowledge and fitness against other cadets. It requires running obstacle courses, heavy lifting and endurance to be successful at this event. What better place to train for this than a facility that is specifically designed for athletes who do similar activities?

All of the events require strong legs, a strong lower back and overall power. The main exercises for these muscle groups are dead lifts, power cleans, squats and other lifts that require movement from the floor with heavy weight.

Since the floor in the Fitness Center is not reinforced, heavy weights cannot be dropped. You might ask, “Machines take care of that, don’t they?” Machines do control where the weight moves and stops; however, they also inhibit the full range of motion by the user. The full range of motion is a major part of the workout. It engages secondary and tertiary muscles that may not be engaged on a machine.

Club sports teams need to be able to use these weight rooms as well. Especially the wrestlers, who attempt to move other people who are resisting them when they compete. The wrestling team stands out to me as the most in need of use of an adequate facility to train in. They need to be able to use a weight room that allows Olympic lifts as well as supports the weight being used. Our wrestlers compete in Division I tournaments across the country, yet cannot get the extra edge that they need to go further in their competitions.

I understand that the new NCAA teams being introduced to the university will make Mercer more prosperous than the club sports and ROTC program; nonetheless, it is unfair that those who also want to compete in something other than a major collegiate sport be discriminated against because of their funding from the university. A facility for the smaller programs to train in would help us become more competitive against other schools.

The use of suitable weight rooms for competitive teams that are not in the NCAA is vital because other teams deserve the same chance to succeed as their bigger counterparts. It could bring more notoriety to the school in the areas that are not as popular as major sports. Also, people who are interested in the smaller programs, such as ROTC, would see how well we do in competitions and want to join because of our reputation. The fact is that if this plan were to be carried out, it would be favorable for our teams and, more importantly, the university as a whole.