An idea that began a year ago is moving closer to realization following a discussion during the March meeting of the Emmetsburg Community School District Board of Directors. A briefing on a proposal to upgrade the current weight training facility at the high school was presented to the board members in the March 21 session.
High School Weight Room Coordinator Mike Dunlap presented a power point program to the board members outlining the reasons for considering an upgrade to the facilities, which were first established in 1995.
"It's no secret that weight training helps athletic programs and athletes," Dunlap explained. "Here in Emmetsburg, for many years, we were among the leaders in the state with our weight training programs, and other schools have worked hard to catch up to us. As times have changed, the idea of weight training for all athletes has become more and more important, and through discussions with all of our coaches, we have tried to develop weight training programs that are the best for all sports and all athletes."
However, Dunlap noted that in trying to develop more user-friendly programs, the limitations of the current weight room facility and its equipment were becoming more and more restrictive. Much of the current equipment is older, 30 to 40 years of age. While still serviceable, it is not as safe as could be by today's more stringent standards.
"A group of people from the community heard about this and they have been working with us to try and develop a plan to modernize our weight training equipment to make it current and better suited to serve all athletes in all sports," Dunlap explained. "Our current facility was built through community donations back in the 1990's."
Dunlap added that updates to the facility were made in 2006, but on a limited basis.
Board Member Rick Brennan offered support of the age of the equipment. "I know the hip sled in that room was put in brand new by Coach Twait in 1984, because I helped him assemble it when I was in school."
"Our equipment is not garbage, but it has been used and that's good," noted Dunlap,
Dunlap showed the board examples of new, state-of-the-art equipment, manufactured in Jefferson, IA, that could be obtained and placed in the weight room at the high school. The new equipment, along with improvements to the room, such as ventilation and flooring, are being estimated to cost around $160,000.
It was noted that the community group is working to develop a community fundraising drive to meet the financial need for the project. "The committee feels that the success that our Emmetsburg athletic programs have enjoyed over the years, has provided a great source of pride to our school and community," Brennan explained. "It's the committee's thought that the E-Hawk strength and fitness program would be able to impact every student-athlete in the district, and in that respect, it should be the very best that it can be."
Similar facilities as being proposed have been constructed in the Aplington-Parkersburg Community Schools, as well as Sibley-Ocheyedan and Akron-Westfield school districts. Similar weight training equipment is also found in 31 of the 32 NFL team clubhouses in the nation.
"I think we need to get our female athletic programs as interested in this as the boys teams are," Board member Tammy Naig said. "As a parent of female athletes, I think this is a great opportunity for our district."
"This is designed to be just that, for everyone in the district," Dunlap agreed.
"I can see the need for all of our students to be behind this and support it," Brennan added.
Board President BJ Schany agreed. "This is an opportunity for us to wipe the slate clean and put everyone in our athletic programs at the same advantage."
Board members discussed the possibility of making a financial commitment toward the project, using Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) funds.
"I think it would be very disappointing if we as a school did not participate in some way in doing something to get behind this project," Naig said. "I feel this is worth our support."
"I know there are concerns from younger kids about the weight room," observed Board member Scott Kibbie. "The way it is, we're not going to get a lot of the younger kids going in there because they're intimidated by some of the equipment. New equipment would help, and couple that with a full program for all ages, I think would be very positive for all of our students. The best thing about this is that it can create excitement in our kids about future success."
"I think this is a wonderful plan," Board member Karla Anderson said. "Better strength training could help reduce injuries to our athletes, and we had some problems with our girls this year with some injuries. But, I don't think I could promise any money towards a project right now."
"As a school board, we haven't put much money in there in the past," Naig pointed out.
As the discussion wound down, the board agreed to wait and see how the community group approached the project and agreed to continue talking about the idea during the April board meeting.