Student athletes returning to campus this fall were greeted by a new state-of-the-art athletic training room and revamped facilities in the Field House, a project undertaken by the Department of Athletics.The new athletic training room was designed with the wellness of Gallaudet student-athletes as the top priority, with the added bonus of being more visual and "deaf-friendly." The injury prevention and first aid area includes upgraded, custom-made taping stations with ample storage space to treat student-athletes more efficiently. "Student-athletes deserve first-class, high-class treatment -- they give their all for the University. Now we are giving back to them," Athletic Director Mike Weinstock said of the upgrades. A welcome addition is the new hydrotherapy area, which has already become a hit with the student-athletes. A four-person, salt water-based hot and cold tub has been installed along with a new crushed ice machine, which is optimal for icing injuries because crushed ice molds better to the body. There are now six treatment tables to help nurse student-athletes back from injuries, along with rehabilitation equipment. A new private screening office is designed to give student-athlete an area to discuss injuries and illnesses to medical staff in a confidential setting. The expanded area also allows certified athletic trainers to operate in multiple rooms and interact with staff and student-athletes with minimal visual obstacles. The athletic training room is just one of a number of upgrades made for an enhanced student-athlete experience. Roomy lockers with secure storage for varsity players' IDs and mobile devices replace cramped and dated units, and were placed behind individual team doors equipped with new code-entry keyless locks. "In the past, our coaching staff would skip over the locker rooms and athletic training room when they gave tours of the facilities," said Dean of Student Affairs Dwight Benedict. "Now we have a visually appealing and accessible space so our student-athletes and teams can communicate more freely among each other." In the gym, crisp white and dark blue dividers that roll back at the push of a button when not in use have been installed where plastic yellow and blue curtains hung before. The upgraded team meeting room features risers that extend from the wall on demand to provide seating for more than 70 people. Here, student-athletes can watch game films projected on a wall and discuss game plans with coaching staff. It serves other functions, as well: the seats can be retracted to convert the space into a multipurpose room, and the Department of Physical Education and Recreation uses it for classes. "We want our student-athletes to be continually reminded that they are here for education, and at the same time we appreciate their efforts to represent the University as members of our athletic teams," said Provost Stephen Weiner. "We wanted to create an area where academic discourse could take place outside of the classroom. Our student-athletes now have an area where their interaction is not necessarily limited to athletics. They have a space where they can feel comfortable enough to continue to interact beyond the realm of athletics and to discuss their academic pursuits." Junior Ryan Bonheyo from Maryland, a running back for the football team, was one of the first student-athletes to see the completed upgrades. "I knew these plans were in the works, but I didn't realize they'd be this nice," he said. Bonheyo said his teammates are spending more time in the revamped facilities, chatting and discussing both game plans and classes. "It's had a great impact on our team chemistry," he said. "It's great for the players, seeing how serious the University is about investing in the Athletics Department--not just athletics, actually, but the whole campus."