There is a saying that goes, “It’s amazing how much you can get done, if you don’t mind who gets the credit.”

That’s one of the great things about this community. People are willing to work together, to cooperate and develop partnerships that result in some amazing projects and programs. Last month we saw this happen with the opening of the Wilmington College Sports Science Center.

This project could not have been accomplished by a single person or a single organization: Wilmington College, guided by their board of directors and President Jim Reynolds; the board of trustees of Clinton Memorial Hospital, with their chief executive officer, Greg Nielson; Dr. Tim Kremcheck, the founder and owner of Beacon Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine; Drayer Physical Therapy Institute; and, Dr. Michael Rohlfs, owner of Chiropractic Care. All of these fine people and organizations collaborated in the development of the new Sports Science Center.

Wilmington College has long been known for itsexcellent sports medicine program. Graduates of the program have been an integral part of athletic programs in high schools, colleges and professional teams across the country. A degree from Wilmington College in sports medicine can be a passport to a great future with any sports program in the country.

As I was growing up in Germantown in the 1960s, there were two words that I never remember hearing used together; sports and science. If we were injured playing a game, the standard three-word treatment that was shouted at the player was, “Walk it off.”

Fifty years ago, except for the professional teams and some Division I colleges, there was rarely any medical staff on the sidelines. There might be a life squad with a few people ready to transport an injured player (this was even before we had emergency medical services), but expert sports medicine was as rare as an unassisted triple play.

I was never much of an athlete. Most of my high school years were spent working various jobs. I didn’t have the time to focus on practices and games, but I spent some time during my sophomore year as the “manager” of the varsity track team. Managing the team had nothing to do with taping ankles or stabilizing the knees of the athletes. It meant that I had to be sure I loaded the poles for the pole vaulters, the shots for the shot putters and the discuses for the discus throwers.

Sports and science? In the 1960s, those two words went together about as well as bubblegum and popcorn. Science was trying to get Americans to the moon and safely home by the end of the decade. Sports was rough, hard, sweaty games played by big tough men like Ted Kluszewski (Big Klu), Lou “The Toe” Groza and just about anyone who played for Vince Lombardi. Sports was sports and science was science. The two rarely meshed.

The American College of Sports Medicine was started in 1954 by a group of dedicated scientists who knew they could have a huge impact on the field of sports with the inclusion of science and research. Following several decades of growth, professional and college teams are now incorporating science into virtually all of their athletic programs.

It’s not just running and weight lifting anymore; training now includes exercise physiology, sports psychology, biomechanics, kinesiology and biochemistry.

Treatment not only involves protecting the athlete from injury, but by making significant advances in physical conditioning and player protection (helmets and padding) the athlete has a much better chance of extending their playing career by several seasons.

The partnerships that brought the Wilmington College Sports Science Center into existence will extend well into the future and will provide training and education for new generations of athletic trainers and sport scientists. The impact of this partnership will be felt on the athletic fields of high schools, colleges and professional venues across this country for years to come.

Thank you all for making this possible.

Randy Riley is Mayor of Wilmington.

Randy Riley

Contributing Columnist