Gymnastics to get much-needed space, equipment with new facility


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After more than a year of planning, the Iowa Athletics Department approved a renovation and expansion of the practice facility, located in the Field House. The project is scheduled to be complete in February 2015.

The renovations will create twice the amount of space for both the men’s and women’s teams to practice and also provide more pits to train for landings.

"Gymnastics has come a long way," women’s head coach Larissa Libby said. "The skill level is increasing every day, and we need a facility to accommodate that."

With two teams and two coaching staffs working in one space, the expansion was much needed. Now, the programs will have morethan 20,000 square feet (Libby estimated the former total to be 9,000-10,000 square feet) to work with, providing a spacious environment for a demanding style of training.

Before, Libby and men’s head coach JD Reive would strategically plan around each other’s practices to accommodate the lack of space. Often, one team would have to start training earlier or later than was ideal, especially on such events as the vault and the floor exercise, in which both men and women compete.

Now, both teams can comfortably practice during a time slot that best suits the academic interests of the student-athletes.

“With more room, we can be more efficient,” Reive said. “And we can get more done in less time.”

As valuable as the space is, Reive views the addition of foam pits, as well more Resi-pits, as crucial to the team’s training. Usual landing mats will still be used to simulate competition, but Resi and foam pits are valuable tools for repetition of routines in practice.

“Pits are essential for dismounts,” Reive said. “Especially foam pits, which allow us to train with less of a risk of injury.”

The decreased risk of injury is crucial — now, the teams can safely practice thousands of dismounts for any event.

The facilities will also include additional event equipment, such as new high bars and balance beams.

Overall, the expansion and renovation provides a more thorough and safe area for both teams to train and should give them a boost in recruiting as well.

Both Reive and Libby helped architects with design in order to fit in the added and existing equipment.

The teams will both practice in the main gym of the Field House until the project is completed.

Senior men’s captain Lance Alberhasky has gone his whole college career in the old facility, and for his final semester will have a boost in resources and space to train.

“I’m super-excited to be able to experience the new facilities before I graduate,” Alberhasky said. “It will help the future of Iowa gymnastics tremendously.”

For Libby, the upgrade will mark the end of a long run with the old facility.

“It’s been my home for the past 14 years, so it’s kind of weird,” Libby said. “But we made it work, and I’m grateful for this new commitment from the administration.”

Follow @CharlsGreen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s gymnastics team.

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