Saturday, March 23, 2019

Artigues helps Southeastern Athletics build holistic experience

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019 | Views: 422

Artigues helps Southeastern Athletics build holistic experience
HAMMOND, La. – Over the course of the past five years, Southeastern Louisiana’s Department of Athletics has experienced unprecedented growth, spurred on by the appointment of former head baseball coach Jay Artigues as the athletic director by university president Dr. John Crain.

Artigues had taken over a baseball program in 2006 that had averaged just 21 wins the previous three seasons and quickly turned things around. Through eight seasons, Artigues elevated the program to an average of 35 wins per season and accumulated a string of 11 consecutive semesters with team GPA of 3.0 or better.

Following the completion of the 2013 season, he took over as athletic director hoping to see the same type of improvement within the entire department as he did with the baseball program.

“It was tough stepping away from coaching and moving into administration, but it was a challenge I was looking forward to,” Artigues said.

Taking the same approach he used eight years earlier, Artigues set about defining success.

“It was important to establish a mission statement for the department that the coaches, staff and student-athletes could take ownership of,” Artigues said. “I coached here for almost a decade and I couldn’t tell you the department’s mission statement, but more importantly, neither could the student-athletes.”

After input from the department’s head coaches, a new mission statement was crafted – committed to excellence in the classroom, in the community and in competition.

With a focus on the three key components by the student-athletes, coaches and staff over the past five years, Southeastern has excelled.

In the classroom, student-athletes are thriving. In the spring of 2017, Southeastern recorded its highest GPA in department history. The department continues to break records academically, improving the overall G.P.A. over the course of the next three semesters. This past fall semester, student-athletes combined for a departmentwide 3.16 overall GPA with more than 50 percent recording an individual 3.0 G.P.A. or higher.

In the community, Southeastern averages 15 hours of community service per student-athlete each year, routinely accumulating more than 5,000 combined hours. With record-setting numbers, Southeastern earned the Southland Conference Community Service Award in 2017.

In competition, student-athletes are excelling on the field, court and track. Since the fall of 2013, Southeastern has claimed a pair of Southland Conference football titles, indoor and outdoor championships in men’s track and field, a baseball regular season title and a Southland tournament championship, a men’s basketball regular season title and a women’s soccer tournament championship.

At the NCAA level, track and field athlete Alex Young claimed a national title in the men’s indoor weight throw during the spring of 2016. During this stretch, the baseball, football and softball teams have all churned out a program record for most wins in a single season.

“I commend our coaches for committing to our mission statement...it starts in recruiting student-athletes that are committed to excellence in all three areas,” Artigues said. “The mission statement is posted in every athletic building on campus. I wanted our student-athletes and coaches to see it every day everywhere they went.”

With facilities playing a huge part of the recruiting process, it was also a focal point of Artigues to see physical improvements made throughout the department.

“I think it’s important to show every year that you’re making some sort of major improvement, one thing every single year,” Artigues said. “If we do that in every sport, you look up five years later and we’ve accomplished a lot. Tip your hat to the coaches and administration; everyone has pitched in and done a great job.”

Behind-the-scenes upgrades to the Dick & Glory Sharp Academic Center and the Doc Goodwin Athletic Training Room, along with the Naquin Strength & Conditioning Center, benefit all Southeastern student-athletes, cheerleaders and members of the national champion Lionette dance squad.

The academic center, located on the west side of historic Strawberry Stadium, has received additional computer stations, study rooms, informational signage, flooring and furniture. An NCAA grant helped provide for additional academic counselors.

“It’s all directed by our mission statement – excellence in the classroom, community and competition,” Artigues said. “We’re developing a holistic student-athlete. The academic center has paid dividends by recently generating the highest GPA in department history. It is no coincidence. We’ve committed to excellence in that area, providing the resources we need to be successful academically.”

The main athletic training room has undergone renovations to provide office space and treatment rooms for doctors provided as part of a partnership with North Oaks Health System. Tables and rehab equipment have been upgraded, as has the flooring and décor.

Next door in the Naquin Strength & Conditioning Center, new equipment, flooring and décor allows the staff to remain at the forefront of modern training techniques.

Renovations in the Naquin Center also carved out space for the new North Oaks Nutrition Center.

The nutrition center is only one piece of an entire nutritional program for the Lions and Lady Lions, developed by North Oaks Dietetic Internship Director Leslie Ballard and Southeastern Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Brandon Albin. The program is designed to not only provide sustenance through the nutrition center but also to better educate all Southeastern student-athletes on the best dietary practices.

“Going back to developing a holistic student-athlete, it’s important we also give them the nutritional resources to be successful,” Artigues said. “They get their three meals a day, but it’s also important they have the proper proteins and nutritional information to support their workouts. We’re also educating them on what they should eat, what to purchase at the grocery store and how to properly prepare their meals.”

Located in the Nutrition Center are detailed daily meal plans designed for student-athletes' specific needs – whether it is weight gain or weight loss. Recognizing the differing nutritional demands over a spectrum that includes about 400 young men and women, Ballard meets with each program separately to educate teams on the best practices for their specific sport.

Southeastern student-athletes, cheerleaders and dance team members who have nutritional concerns also have access to Ballard, one of 10 board-certified sports dietitians in Louisiana, for individual consultations.

“Our goal with this program is for the student-athletes to see better performance, fewer injuries and faster recovery because they're fueling and hydrating their bodies the proper way,” Ballard said. “Our primary focus is education and showing the student-athletes it's easier than they think to eat healthily.”

Ballard says this partnership between Southeastern Athletics and North Oaks is mutually beneficial, with interns from their Dietetic Internship Program receiving hands-on experience.

“Sports nutrition is becoming a more popular field and this is an excellent learning experience for our students,” Ballard said. “North Oaks has always been a huge supporter of Southeastern and the opportunity to work collaboratively with SLU Athletics only strengthens that bond.”

The department has also added a leadership coach, meeting with coaches and administrative staff monthly and weekly with select student-athletes identified by their respective coaches.

“We want to help prepare them for the real world, not just for an individual job but so they can be leaders in their profession,” Artigues said. “They’re striving to be leaders and we want to help them succeed.”

Long a multi-sport facility, historic Strawberry Stadium became the first in the state of Louisiana to feature on-field seating with the addition of cabana suites for the 2017 season. Proving extremely popular, the number of suites more than doubled in 2018 with locations in both end zones.

A new soccer locker room was constructed this season and the existing visiting locker room underwent renovations, providing a dedicated space for medical staff. Fiber runs allowed for upgrades to the video board and instant replay systems.

The Billups Room underwent offseason renovations to provide space for the new S Club lounge. Ticket operations moved into a new location on the southwest corner of the stadium before the 2017 season, providing a centralized location for game day, and renovations provided additional accessible seating options on both sides of the stadium.

With a high-profile location on the southwest corner of campus, Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field has been upgraded with the additions of artificial turf, a combined video board, scoreboard and camera system, a new sound system and energy-efficient LED lighting. Corresponding infrastructure upgrades aided concession, media, ticket and game day operations.

Renovations have provided field box seats down each line, new bleacher and accessible seating, and moved the home bullpen out of play behind the left-field wall. Additional improvements include replacing the irrigation system, backstop netting and padding.

Additional concrete areas, informational signage and upgraded restroom facilities have helped generate record baseball attendance four years running.

Similar changes have taken place at North Oak Park this offseason. Adding to earlier upgrades that included chair-back seating, shade sails, backstop netting and padding, and irrigation, the softball stadium now sports new artificial turf, energy-efficient LED lighting and a new outfield wall.

Throughout the park, a variety of upgrades includes an overlay of the walking track, new sod on the other athletic fields and the creation of additional parking spaces. Among several other ongoing projects is the construction of sand courts for Southeastern’s fledgling NCAA beach volleyball program, set to debut in the spring of 2020.

High-profile additions to the University Center have included new sound and scoreboard systems, LED arena lights and a new playing court. Arriving in early 2019 to supplement the game atmosphere are new courtside tables fitted with LED ribbon boards.

As part of electrical upgrades, new energy-efficient LED lights are currently being installed in every fixture throughout the building. A fiber run was completed for a new instant-replay system as well as a remote docking station for television productions.

The infrastructure upgrades also help support previously renovated office space for men’s and women’s basketball, in addition to student marketing and promotions. Locker rooms, for men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and visiting teams, have all seen significant upgrades, as have the University Center weight room and athletic training room. A squad room, for film sessions, team meetings and press conferences, was also created.

At the North Campus facility shared by soccer and softball, upgrades include office and locker room improvements for both, ice machines, laundry facilities and branding inside the gym.

The courts at the Southeastern Tennis Complex were resurfaced, a camera system was installed to provide streaming video and locker room improvements include the installation of ice machines, ice tubs and additional storage.

At the neighboring Southeastern Track & Field Complex, the department’s newest facility, a press box and scoreboard were added; additional concrete was also poured to expand the staging area.

Upgrades at the Dugas Center for Southeastern Athletics have included a renovated football locker room and laundry facilities, privacy fencing, new flooring throughout most of the building, a new boiler for the HVAC system, general office renovations and new branding elements.

Over the past five years, the numerous facility upgrades that support the department’s mission statement of excellence in the classroom, community and competition, were made possible by an increase in fundraising, sponsorship and concession dollars, identifying internal funds and cost efficiencies, routine maintenance and a variety of grant monies.

Concession revenues have doubled since bringing the operations in-house and a partnership with Peak Sports Management to handle sales has led corporate sponsorships revenues to quadruple.

S CLUB
Ex-Southeastern athletes are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners. All membership fees and donations to the S Club are available for the exclusive use of the member’s chosen sport. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Southeastern Athletics, follow @SLUathletics on Twitter, @Southeastern_Athletics on Instagram, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.