WestZone will move all programs up

CLEMSON - When the Clemson football program permanently moves into the WestZone this summer, perhaps nobody will be more proud of the move than Clemson strength and conditioning coordinator Joey Batson.

"I'm glad to see it grow," he said.

And Batson isn't talking about just the football program. He's talking about how Clemson's new 14,000 square foot weight and conditioning area at Memorial Stadium will allow the entire Clemson athletic program to grow.

For years, because it is so big compared to other programs, the football program has demanded a lot of time and space in the old facility which is located inside the Jervey Athletic Center. For instance, during the months of January and February each year, the football program has had to block off three 30 people sessions in order to get the necessary training required to compete at the BCS level.

Those sessions have put a strain on other programs like volleyball, rowing, men's and women's soccer and tennis.

"That's not fair to those programs," Batson said. "It is just not fair to anybody, but because of the number of football athletes and the training we do, it had to be done.

"All the coaches have been patient and have worked with us. They understand, but this (move) will free up all the time in the afternoons for those two months. Now they can do a little better job with their scheduling.

"I look at the total sports program, not just the football program, being enhanced and improved by this."

That's the vision Batson has had for the strength and conditioning program since he came to Clemson almost 13 years ago. When he got to Clemson, North Carolina had just completed its own strength and conditioning facility for its football program and since then programs like Florida State, Duke and Boston College have followed.

"I think, and I will not say we were in a hurry, but it should have been done and it is being done," Batson said. "I think just having everything under one roof will be really good for football. The thing that I look at is just not football. I look at the total sports program because I'm responsible for all of it.

"When we get into the WestZone we will then have the Jervey Athletic Center by itself, plus our basketball facility is five or six years old. When you look at all three, and I think this is the vision of Dr. Phillips, we are going to have some of the best strength and conditioning facilities in the country.

"That's the way I look at it. I look at the total program."

Batson is hopeful the football program will be in the new WestZone by July.

"Hopefully we can start moving equipment in by June," he said. "When you have 14,000 square feet, there is a lot of equipment that has to be moved in and setup and put in place. We have a great facility here. We will be fine.

"Everyone wants to get in as quick as possible, but at that same time things are going to come in waves. It is not just going to show up one day on a back of a truck and fill up. It is going to take a little bit of time so hopefully by second session summer school we can get in there and train a little bit. If not, we are definitely in there by fall camp."

Once the Tigers complete the move, Batson expects to see a lot of improvements by the football and other programs when it comes to their training. He said having the football team isolated will allow them and the other athletes that work in Jervey to become more focused because there are fewer distractions around.

"Football is pretty intense. They come in and there is a pretty high tempo. It is like practice," Batson said. "You don't come in and just start lifting and people are going to be able to work around you. You are very structured. Everything is timed and it is no different than practice. When they come in they have a regiment that they are going to do and we are going to take them through it.

"When you have about 90 people, that is three groups of 30 people, and 30 people are a lot of people. You may not think that is a lot, but when you are trying to organize it and run it well and you have 30 football players and you have other athletes walking through and milling around the training area then they just lose their focus and their concentration.

"It just provides a better environment to workout in. Every sport is important and all these sports train differently and they all have good strength coaches. I know how I want to train football. The more structure, the better organized you are and the less distraction you have, then the better quality training you will have.

"It is no different than having football practice on field one and you have another sport on field two and another sport on field three and people are coming and going across field one while you are trying to practice football.

"All of our sports and kids deserve the best facilities they can get."

And starting in July, they are all going to have it.

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