New Northwestern Medicine Performance Center to benefit all NIU student-athletes

Thanks to a leadership gift from Northwestern Medicine, Northern Illinois University will establish the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center, which will directly benefit all Huskie student-athletes, NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier announced last week.

“Providing our student-athletes with everything they need to compete and develop physically is an important aspect of our overall emphasis on student-athlete welfare,” Frazier said. “We are proud to have strong partnerships and leaders in our community like Jay Anderson and Kevin Poorten of Northwestern Medicine, as well as a committed group of alumni, who join us in supporting that mission. Special thanks go to NIU President Lisa Freeman for her significant support for this project and all things student-welfare related.”

The project will transform the existing weight room in the Yordon Center into a full-service sports performance area, complete with an adjacent Nutrition Center, which is being made possible through the support of Northwestern Medicine as well as a large group of NIU alumni.

“As coaches, we are so happy to see the addition of the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center, and the new Nutrition Center, for our student-athletes,” said Women’s Golf Head Coach Kim Kester. “The added available resources will help all our athletes perform at the top level. Athletes will see first-hand the correct way to fuel their bodies to minimize injury and to help in the body’s recovery process before and after workouts, practices and competitions. We can’t thank Northwestern Medicine and all of the donors enough for their dedication to NIU Athletics and helping our student-athletes.”

In all, NIU has commitments and support totaling more than half a million dollars toward the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center, which is the third major project from NIU Athletics’ Campaign to Sustain to be realized, joining the gymnastics vault pit and the Nelson Club renovation inside the NIU Convocation Center, set to be completed this season.

The latest project includes multiple enhancements to the current weight room along with the construction of the Nutrition Center, which will serve all 400 Huskie student-athletes. The changes will include renovation and adjustments within the existing space on the east end of the Yordon Center and Barsema Hall of Champions. Jay Anderson, president of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, said the gift is the latest example of the company’s commitment to DeKalb and to its ongoing partnership with NIU.

“We are excited to partner with NIU and provide their student-athletes with access to world-class care,” said Anderson. “We are looking forward to building a premier comprehensive athletic health and wellness program with the enhancement of the performance center and the opening of the Nutrition Center.”

Support for the project includes both nutritional products for the student-athletes and staffing of the Nutrition Center, both of which are critical elements to the development of current and future Huskies, according to NIU Director of Sports Performance Brad Ohrt.

“I am excited that this project is one huge step closer to fruition,” Ohrt said. “With the generous support of Northwestern Medicine, as well as our alumni and other donors, we will be able to do a much better job of providing nutritional meals, snacks — and most importantly — post-workout recovery products, for our student-athletes. This performance center will allow our student-athletes the opportunity to develop physically, ultimately affecting their ability to compete for championships.”

Brock Hudkins, a wrestling student-athlete, is looking forward to the new center.

“Having the Nutrition Center is going to be really good. If you have to go straight to class from a workout, it’s hard to get that breakfast and nutrition you need. It will make sure I’m consuming the right things and will help [me] mentally and physically,” said Hudkins. “This performance center and Nutrition Center shows how much emphasis there is from the department and from Northwestern Medicine and the other donors, on taking care of us as student-athletes. This is something every athlete will benefit from, and I know we’re all really grateful.”

All 17 NIU teams utilize the current weight room, which services Huskie student-athletes year-round.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to get this [project] done, and I personally want to say thank you to everyone who had a hand in it, especially our new partner Northwestern Medicine; Jay Anderson and his team, Dr. Brian Babka, and Mike Gegner have been unbelievable,” said NIU Football Head Coach Rod Carey. “There are many others, including our football alumni, who gave a lot of money, which is fantastic to see that they rallied, and they knew this was important. Having this will be invaluable from the recruiting side, but the most important thing is that every student-athlete will now have a place right here next to the performance center, in a beautiful setting, that will take our athletes to the next level.”

Frazier said the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center, with the key element of the Nutrition Center, is the beginning phase of a multi-tier plan to enhance NIU student-athlete welfare.

Pending approval by the NIU Board of Trustees, construction on the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center, including the Nutrition Center will begin during the spring 2019 semester.

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