Delta State University Athletics received a second six-figure grant from the Bolivar Medical Center Foundation to continue a highly-regarded initiative that has provided sports performance and health and wellness treatment and education to the physically active on campus and in the community for the past year. The recent $120,000 gift follows an initial installment of $250,000 in September 2018 and extends the project for a second year.
“Strength and conditioning programs have always been an important part of the success of any athletic program,” said Delta State Director of Athletics Mike Kinnison. “The Bolivar Medical Center Foundation grant has given us the opportunity to expand our strength-training initiatives for Delta State student-athletes and teach the latest techniques and processes to area high schools. Strength training, injury prevention, and recovery are all a major part of the educational outreach we are providing for our DSU teams and the community.”
The project, a joint venture between the Bolivar Medical Center and Delta State Sports Medicine and Strength and Conditioning, emphasizes a proactive approach to prevent sports-related injury and disability and to promote health and wellness by offering DSU student-athletes, high school athletes, and their coaches and parents more access to certified athletic trainers and strength and conditioning personnel. There is a shortage of these professionals in Bolivar County and surrounding areas.
The experts administer healthcare education, injury evaluation, rehabilitation strategies, and event coverage in both collegiate and secondary school settings. They also address related topics such as heat illness, sleep patterns, and cardiac vigilance, plus concussions, nutrition, hydration, warmup, equipment, supplements, emergency action plans, and rest and recovery, among others.
“We are committed to enhancing the sports medicine knowledge base of student-athletes, coaches, team personnel, parents, and other physically active at Delta State and across Bolivar County,” said Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine/Performance Abby Havard. “This is vital to improving health and wellness.”
Delta State Athletics used most of the $250,000 grant to fortify staffing needs for campus student-athletes, who total 385 for 2019-20. It created a Strength and Conditioning Department by hiring a head coach and four graduate assistants. And it expanded the Sports Medicine Department from two to three full-time athletic trainers and added four 10-month positions.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with DSU student-athletes and area high school coaches and staffs to ensure that they are using proper techniques and the latest data available,” said Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Rodriguez. “A well-trained staff will reduce injuries in the weight room while creating an environment that allows student-athletes to reach their optimal potential.”
The $250,000 grant also enabled Delta State Athletics to host eight clinics for the wider community last year on subjects such as hydration information and stress relief. So far, approximately 800 people have been reached.
Cleveland Central High School Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Leroy Cotton said, “Our coaching staff thoroughly enjoyed and learned from the tips and strategies that were shared” when strength and conditioning representatives visited the school. “We are very grateful and we are excited about the opportunities of our staff becoming better through the knowledge that Delta State will be giving to us.”
The $120,000 infusion will further these efforts. Upcoming clinics include CPR training, injury evaluation, and nutrition education.
DSU’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing and the Divisions of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and of Family and Consumer Sciences, both in the College of Education and Human Sciences, also play a role in the project. Additional community participants include Bolivar County schools, Cleveland Park Commission, Cleveland Youth Soccer Association, and local gyms/fitness centers.