By: Jim Donnelly
For The CORD
Take a walk to the north end of campus, past Willison and Conrad, through the parking lot and on to the Athletic Complex. Stare at the said complex. Even the most unobservant of students will come to notice the significant changes gracing its exterior.
Step inside the building’s doors and you’ll find that the 29 year-old building is in the process of renovating itself in its entirety. Besides the relatively new weight rooms – which came into being two years ago – ‘phase one’ of the A.C. renovation project has recently installed the Hawk Desk, new coaches’ offices, a Student Leader Centre, a dance studio, and a super-circuit room.
“The A.C. was built in 1971, and has had no renovations done to it until now. It’s a change that’s been long overdue, and it’s going to be a benefit to all of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Sue Lindley
, WLU Coordinator of Recreation, Fitness and Customer Services. “It’s a nicer place to come to, it gives a nicer perspective when you walk through the doors.”
The new offices, on the right-hand side of the main entrance, are a refreshing change from the traditionally cramped and dingy rooms of the original building. They feature Internet access (previously unavailable), state-of-the-art computer systems, large windows, and roomy waiting areas.
“Previously, the A.C. had no Internet access whatsoever. It’s critical to have it, so the building is now completely wired,” said Lindley. “The new offices are a dramatic improvement over the old ones.”
, WLU Director of Athletics & Recreation, agrees. “Previously we had a lot of coaches with no offices at all, or if they did have one it was usually small, cramped and stuffy. The new ones offer tremendous advantages over the old.”
The Student Leader Centre, on the left of the main foyer, is a large office for all student athletics coordinators. Recreational coordinators, intramural and fitness leaders, instructors, and personal trainers all use the huge office which contains brand-new computer equipment and large workstations.
Renovations are also being made to the squash courts, previously in various states of disrepair. The floors and walls of all the courts are scheduled to be redone, as well as a completely new paint job and purple and white floor tiles outside the courts.
The dance studio, located on the ground floor directly underneath the new offices, features a hardwood floor, ballet bar, a high-tech stereo system, and fully mirrored walls. Besides regular dance classes, fitness programs such as Boxercise and martial arts will also take place in the studio.
Baxter maintains that the initiative was supported wholeheartedly by University officials.
“Laurier itself recognized that the building was state-of-the-art in 1971, but time has certainly gone by and some changes needed to be made,” he said. “Since the early 70’s, interest in fitness and recreational activities has grown by leaps and bounds and we’re trying to expand in order to accommodate that need.”
“We’ve had tremendous support from President Rosehart and Dean McMurray, as well as Student Union Presidents Gareth Cunningham and Devon Grady.”
‘Phase two’ of the A.C. renovation plan, more sweeping even than the first, is set to commence in mid- to late-March with the demolition of much of the core of the building. It will feature major changes to the main foyer and old coaches’ offices, more public washrooms and better-equipped changerooms. The installation of a climbing wall at the far end of the building has also been discussed.
“We’re going to completely gut the upstairs and downstairs, hopefully starting March 20. The new area will have larger changerooms, especially for women, and several team rooms including separate ones for visiting teams,” said Baxter.
The main foyer will also be completely redesigned. The vintage orange and yellow walls will, mercifully, be eliminated along with the gigantic ‘POOL’ and ‘GYM’ signs which at present grace its walls. A ‘Golden Hawk Lounge,’ featuring pictures and stories of Laurier’s athletic history, will be located where the foyer now exists.
“The new lounge will create much more social and living space, and will be more friendly and welcoming to students,” said Lindley. “It will also contain a food concession of some sort.”
All told the project will end up costing the school $2.5 million, $1.25 million of which will come from a new student levy of $4 per course running for the next five school years. The other half will be paid by the University, as one of its Milleneum Projects.
“We want to give potential students and student athletes a favourable impression of the school,” said Baxter. “These renovations will accomplish this.”
“Fitness on campus is an important part of a student’s education. Even though you don’t earn credits for it, participation in sport teaches skills valuable later in life – you learn how to test yourself, work with people as a team, and deal with an entire spectrum of emotions from downright depression to excitement and elation.”