HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – A new five-year agreement between Centenary University and St. Luke’s University Health Network brings leading athletic training to the University’s student-athletes, while advancing academic offerings and supplementing efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Launched last fall, the partnership has gained importance with the recent announcement by the Colonial States Athletics Conference (CSAC) that intercollegiate athletics—paused by the pandemic—can resume for the upcoming spring season.
The pact sends St. Luke’s athletic trainers to the Centenary University campus to assist student-athletes with prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of emergent, acute, or chronic injuries and medical conditions, as well as strength and conditioning. Through the agreement, Centenary student-athletes also have access to the full range of medical services provided by the St. Luke’s network, including streamlined diagnostic testing and specialists for conditions such as orthopedic injuries, concussions, and cardiac issues, as well as nutrition counseling.
“Centenary is partnering with one of the best hospital health networks in the country,” said Travis Spencer, the University’s director of athletics. “St. Luke’s is a top 100 hospital. The ability for our student-athletes to have access to all the resources St. Luke’s has to offer completely makes sense.”
Spencer said that the agreement is part of a broader effort at Centenary to elevate intercollegiate athletics at the University. Other priorities advanced through Athletics Department initiatives have included installing new equipment in the University’s fitness center and introducing new facilities, such as an on-campus turf baseball field that debuted with an opening day double header in February 2020, just weeks before the pandemic halted intercollegiate sports across the nation.
Through the St. Luke’s partnership, Matt Togno, a lead athletic trainer at St. Luke’s, will serve as head athletic trainer for the Centenary Cyclones, and will be assisted by several additional athletic trainers from the health network. Togno has extensive experience with university and professional athletes, including serving as an athletic trainer with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, and holds a master’s degree in the field.
While fall and winter sports seasons were paused due to the pandemic, the Cyclones were still on campus participating in workouts, allowing Togno and his staff to begin working with Centenary student-athletes. The St. Luke’s athletic trainers also signed on to assist the University’s Health Office with on-campus Covid-19 testing to help control the spread of the pandemic. Since August, Centenary students have had the opportunity to attend classes in-person, online, or in a HyFlex format combining the two through a new program called Centenary Choice. Togno explained, “With Centenary students on campus and athletics on hold last fall, it made sense for us to use our skills to help out the University with testing. St. Luke’s athletic trainers have a broad range of skills and we’re happy to help.”
On the academic side, Centenary recently introduced a new exercise science major as part of the University’s expanding offerings in the health sciences. Spencer said the partnership will provide opportunities for Centenary students to gain hands-on experience with the St. Luke’s athletic trainers, as well as through internships with the health network. “We’re an institution of higher education, so we’re always looking for ways to teach in the moment,” Spencer said. “During this five-year agreement, we’ll be looking for ways to build on these benefits and enhance the environment for our student-athletes, and for all Centenary students.”