Northwood Opens $1 million Weight Room/Training Room
Midland Daily News
Northwood Opens $1 million Weight Room/Training Room
By Fred Kelly
Administrators, coaches, student-athletes, and many others packed Thrune Courtyard on Friday afternoon to witness what Northwood University Athletics Director Pat Riepma called “a huge day for Northwood.”
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony behind NU’s Bennett Center, Northwood President Dr. Keith Pretty unveiled the school’s new weight room, training room, and student lounge, which are located where the Bennett Center’s swimming pool previously sat.
The facility, which was begun in mid-May, is the first phase of an estimated $10.5 million four-part facilities improvement project.
“It’s a great day for our student-athletes. These are first-class facilities,” said Riepma, who spearheaded the initiative. “This is going to have a tremendous impact on our young people, giving them every opportunity to reach greatness, and that’s really what it’s all about.
” … That’s what today is all about — being the best you can be.”
Also in attendance were representatives of the Robert B. Bennett family, for whom the Bennett Center is named, as well as the Charles Strosacker Foundation and the Fabiano Foundation. Donations from those three entities fully funded the new weight/training facility, Riepma said.
“(These are) three awesome families that made it happen,” Riepma noted, adding that the facility cost about $1 million. “At Northwood, we build from private funding. There’s no government money in this building, no student fees or tuition dollars (used for capital improvements). It’s all from the private sector.”
When the Bennett Center opened in 1979, Northwood offered nine varsity sports and had only 135 student-athletes. Now, the school boasts nearly 600 student-athletes playing 18 varsity sports, plus five club sports.
NU’s athletics programs have simply outgrown the previous weight and training rooms, Riepma said.
“(This new facility) is a necessity, because we had no place to go with our kids,” he said. “Facilities are important. You’ve got to be able to train, and you’ve got to be able to be treated. … And this benefits all of our student-athletes, not just one sport.”
NU head athletics trainer Andy Cripe said the new training room, officially named the Strosacker Athletic Training Room, will completely change the way he is able to assist student-athletes.
“We were joking earlier how we’ve gone from worst to first (in the GLIAC) with the new weight room. And when it comes to the training room, I think we’ve gone from worst to better-than-first,” Cripe said. “I think it’s the best facility that we have in the league, and it’s one of the best in (NCAA) Division II.”
The new training room is about 2,500 square feet — over three times the size of the previous training room — and includes several amenities which Cripe and his staff did not previously have.
For example, the staff members now have their own offices, as well as a private physician’s office for examinations, and there is enough space for student-athletes to get taped up or rehabilitate injuries or simply work on conditioning without being cramped together.
“It’s just an improvement in all facets of what we do on a daily basis,” said Cripe, who noted that that he and his staff can now treat at least 12-15 student-athletes at a time, as opposed to the five or six they previously could work with at a given time.
The training room also includes new equipment, much of which was previously unavailable, such as a therapy whirlpool with an underwater treadmill. The whirlpool will allow student-athletes to do low-impact resistance training, which will improve their conditioning even if they’re not injured, Cripe noted.
“It enhances our all-around therapy regime, because every athlete, injured or not, can get use out of that therapy pool,” Cripe said.
” … It is an outstanding day (for the training staff),” he added.
The new weight room, which is officially named the Robert B. Bennett Athletic Performance and Wellness Center, is approximately 5,500 square feet, which more than doubles the size of the previous weight room.
Marie Zaccagni, who plays both soccer and basketball at NU, said she was blown away by the weight room.
“The weight room’s awesome. My gosh. I thought, ’This is amazing,’” said Zaccagni, who, along with dozens of other student-athletes, toured the facility following the ceremony.
“It’s way different,” she added with a smile. “We’re used to that smaller weight room upstairs (in the Bennett Center). … I feel like ’crazy student-athlete’ now.”
Zaccagni said the new equipment and additional space will probably encourage student-athletes to work out more often.
“When you have excellent stuff, it makes you want to work harder,” she noted.
Daniel Connoly, an incoming freshman from Chicago, agreed.
“It’s all about a player’s individual willingness to get better. But having this (facility) makes it 10 times easier to (work hard),” said Connoly, a defensive tackle who will redshirt with NU’s football team. ” … My first impression is that this has got to be one of the best weight rooms I’ve seen in a college facility.”
Overlooking the weight room is the Fabiano Family Student Lounge, a balcony area which includes plush furniture and a flat-screen TV where student-athletes can study or just hang out and relax.
Riepma said it was rewarding to see the facility become a reality. He also applauded senior advancement officer Brian Parr for helping raise funds, as well as Vice-President of University Advancement Arnold D’Ambrosio for his leadership throughout the process.
The second phase of the facilities improvement project will be the construction of an academics center and indoor athletics turf building, which will include a football field, a track, and batting cages and will be located directly behind the Bennett Center.
Riepma said fund raising for the facility, which is expected to cost $5 million, is already underway.
“We want to break ground on that in the calendar year of 2011,” he noted. “That’s our goal.”
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