Women’s weight room receives upgrades

To better equip student-athletes, Florida A&M is upgrading the women’s weight room to a larger room on the south end of the Gaither Gymnasium.

The athletic department has 16 active sports programs with more than 300 student-athletes who work out in two facilities dedicated to student-athletes.

Female student-athletes at Florida A&M have had a weight room in Gaither for years, but it was unable to hold many people and needed new equipment.

Interim Athletic Director Michael Smith said the facility has a new floor, lifting platforms and weights. He said the upgrades cost between $25,000 to $35,000 and are worth every penny.

“Strength and conditioning is a very vital part of an athlete’s performance when it comes to competition,” Smith said. “It’s a place where students can get better.”

Russell Barbarino, director of strength and conditioning, said the athletes always appreciate up-to-date facilities.

“We can’t pay the athletes,” Barbarino said. “But what we can do is give them new resources so that they can compete at a high level.”

Danielle Lewis, assistant strength and conditioning coach, believes the program can get better with new equipment.

“The old facility had outdated weights, and there was not enough equipment to fit an entire team at one time, so we really couldn’t focus a lot of the work as team-based,” Lewis said.

The 1,132-square-foot room will have equipment purchased from Life Fitness. The equipment includes Olympic platforms and racks.

Patrice Collie, a senior guard for the Lady Rattlers basketball team from West Palm Beach. She said she is eager to get as much use out of the facility as possible.

“I’m really excited because now we will have a new facility,” Collie said. “Having a new facility makes me feel special because we have to work out at the rec center in the morning, but now we have something that we can call ours.”

The money for the improvements was awarded through Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

The upgraded weight room is set to be completed and fully functional by January 2014.