Posted September 12, 2014
By MEAGHAN McCLURE
Part of both the Momentum 2 and Hurricane Club’s “Building Champions” campaigns, the University of Miami opened a specialized dining facility for its student-athletes in the 2014 fall semester.
Named the Athlete Training Table, it is part of the newly renovated Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall. The section is open to all students for breakfast and lunch, but specifically reserved for student-athletes during dinner.
“This dining facility will provide proper nutritional supervision and guidance tailored specifically to each student-athlete which will maximize his or her peak performance,” according to the university’s website.
The new dining experience is not the only new project aimed to improve athletic performance.
The Athlete Training Table is financed by the Victory Fund, an initiative announced in 2013 to “aggressively address the most pressing needs of our football program,” according to the Victory Fund’s website. Raising $7 million, the Victory Fund financed three projects: a new football practice field with lighting, a cold plunge recovery zone and the Athlete Training Table dining experience.
The Victory Fund is an initiative of the Hurricane Club’s “Building Champions” campaign, which is also funded the $15 million Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence, opened in 2013.
According to the University’s website, these projects “will provide the very best experience and resources for our dedicated student-athletes.” All the new athletic assets have created quite a buzz with those involved.
Much anticipation and excitement followed all the new changes and improvements revolving around the athletic department, especially the Athlete Training Table. When Miami Athletic Director Blake James was asked to comment on the project for this article, he expressed his enthusiasm.
“We are very excited to open the new student-athlete dining center. This project further demonstrates our commitment to provide our student-athletes with the resources they need to achieve excellence,” he stated.
James used similar language talking about the general whole of the Victory Fund, saying the Fund “will allow us to provide the resources to win championships.”
The administration isn’t alone in its excitement about the project. Student-athletes conveyed their eagerness for a new and improved dining experience as well.
Davon Reed, a sophomore on the men’s basketball team, explained his reasoning behind his support of athlete-specific dining.
“I haven’t eaten there yet, but the idea is great. Us athletes expend a lot of energy and we need larger portions and better food to refuel. I hope this student-athlete dining hall will provide that for us,” Reed said.
Sophomore football player, Ray Lewis III, had similar thoughts, with one noted drawback.
“I think they did a good job on the architecture of it and it’s a lot more spacious than the old dining hall. Really it’s just designed better all around, but the food’s exactly the same.”
Not everyone on campus is happy about the new student-athlete dining section, however. Some Miami students think of the reserved dining section as unfair to the rest of the student body, who may not be as athletically gifted but instead excel with academics.
Sophomore Andrea Vorlicek described the separate dining as unequal.
“I feel like it’s unfair for the athletes to get their own section because I think we’re all equal students. They’re not better than me and I’m not better than them, they perform on the field and I perform in the classroom. In the end we’re all students, and we should all get the same benefits,” Vorlicek said.
Other students see the Athlete Training Table as somewhat reasonable, but still share many of the same concerns as Vorlicek.
Erin Moncrief, also a sophomore, answered in this way when asked her opinions on the project.
“Most Division I schools already have separate dining for athletes so I feel like the athlete section was kind of a necessity and it’s a more effective way of organizing the dining hall to reduce traffic. For me personally, the downside is that the students don’t really get to interact with athletes anymore and since I’m an athletic training major, eating with them used to give me a chance to know them better. As a side note, I think it’s kind of unfair that they might get better food than the rest of us,” Moncrief stated.
Attempts to talk with administrators for Dining Services about the Dining Master Plan were not successful. School officials declined to comment when contacted on two occasions.
The renovated Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall opened before the Fall 2014 semester. This project, involving athletic dining, was part of the University’s Dining Master Plan.
Other projects included in the plan were finished earlier in the year; the makeover of the Mahoney-Pearson Dining Hall, a renewed Food Court, and the addition of Einstein Bros. Bagels, the Outtakes convenience store, Lime, a second campus Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Made 2 Order. Two more dining retail options can be expected before Spring 2015 upon completion of the plan.