Improving the student athlete experience

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Improving the student athlete experience

athletic-apparel-storage-spacesaver-compactorsA renewed emphasis on improving the collegiate experiences of student athletes has led to a better way for coaches, athletes, and managers to store gear for four major sports at Northern Arizona University.

With 15 NCAA Division I sports, the university has needed to store large quantities of gear and apparel for many years, but storage space was rarely seen as a priority. That changed approximately four years ago, when the arrival of the new Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. Lisa Campos, was accompanied by a change in staffing roles throughout the athletics department, particularly in leadership positions. Carlos Loaiza, Manager of Equipment Operations, was among the new hires.

“I came on board at a time when philosophies were changing,” Loaiza said. “There was a new emphasis on infrastructure and enhancing the student-athlete experience, so I was lucky: I came in at a time when I was able to see the need and address it.”

The need was readily apparent. For years, gear and supplies had been stored wherever coaches and managers could find space, including a crowded and inconvenient attic area. Shelving had been installed around the perimeter of the main equipment room, but the large space in the middle of the room became a mess of stacked plastic bins. “Not only was the space not utilized properly, but it also wasn’t aesthetically pleasing,” Loaiza said.

Loaiza had used compact mobile storage systems at other facilities, so he was confident that a similar system would work well in the main equipment room. “I knew it’s the best way to use the space you already have,” he said.

athletic apparel storage from Spacesaver - compact mobile shelving - compactor system - sports team storageHe explained his idea to Campos, put together a budget, and brought in three vendors, including a Spacesaver consultant from Phoenix. The Spacesaver consultant worked with Loaiza to gain an understanding of exactly what he needed to store and what concepts he had in mind. The consultant also measured the space and noted obstructions like the sprinkler system and lighting fixtures. Then he designed and presented two alternatives, including the Wheelhouse compact mobile storage system and a wall-mounted rack for football shoulder pads.

After carefully considering the options, Loaiza decided on Spacesaver’s system. He based his decision on several factors: First off, since the system would only store shoes and athletic apparel, a lower weight rating would be more than adequate for the facility’s needs. Secondly, because of the low weight rating, the rail could be installed on top of the existing concrete floor, minimizing downtime and disruption. Finally, the Spacesaver system came in at half the allotted budget for the project.

The system was installed about a year ago. Now slow-moving inventory is still stored in the attic space, but frequently-used items for four major sports — football, volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball — are all stored on the Spacesaver system in the main equipment room. “This is so much more convenient,” Loaiza said. “Now it’s right here.”

Because the system stores shoes, apparel, and gear for four major sports, it has to be flexible enough to accommodate the ebb and flow of items throughout the various seasons. Products for the fall season start arriving in June, with boxes coming in almost every day. New items are entered into the inventory system, embellished if necessary, and placed in storage. The Spacesaver system gradually empties out as items are issued to players over the course of the season, but soon it begins filling again with basketball gear, and the cycle repeats.

Loaiza said the new athletic apparel storage system is working well. It saves staff time, presents a tidy appearance to athletes and recruits, and keeps sports gear organized and accessible. Perhaps most importantly, it shows student athletes that their comfort is a priority.

“This is a much better way to use the room,” Loaiza said. “I seem pretty smart, thanks to Spacesaver.”

Learn more about our Wheelhouse storage systems here.

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