Lab director highly experienced in training of world-class athletes
By EMILY ANDERSON
Bill Sands has trained plenty of Olympic athletes, from current gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin to 1968 Olympic high-jump champion Dick Fosbury, creator of the now widely used “Fosbury Flop” method of leaping over the bar back-first.
About a year ago, Sands decided it was time for a change and prepared to leave his position as head of sport biomechanics and engineering at the U.S. Olympic Committee Training Center in Colorado Springs. At the top of his list for new positions was director of the Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory at Mesa State College.
“I love the area. This is an ideal place for me,” Sands said.
Sands got the job and said he’s looking forward to the autonomy and wider variety of options he’ll have running a lab at a smaller school.
He’s run a handful of human-performance labs before, but this is the first one he’s been able to set up on his own. The 2,800-square-foot lab is empty at the moment but for a few cabinets and sinks. Equipment is on the way and the lab should be functional Sept. 1.
Sands, 56, was born in Madison, Wis., and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
He has a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Utah, where his major was physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology. His career experience includes working at the University of Utah, California Lutheran University, numerous positions involving gymnastics, and experience at both the Olympic Training Center in New York and Colorado Springs.
Training Olympians may still take up some of Sands’ time, but he’s not sure athletes will make the move from Colorado Springs to train in Grand Junction at the performance lab.
Someday, though, he hopes the lab’s reputation will encourage some athletes to train here.
“Some cities have adopted sports,” setting up dormitories and training facilities specific to certain sports, Sands said. “The sky’s the limit.”