Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Athletic Department Announces Strength Center Renovation

The Augustana Athletic Department recently announced that they will be renovating the Strength Center in the Carver Center to accommodate to the 25 varsity sports that occupy it.
When the weight room was last remodeled in 2004, there were only 21 sports that used it. The athletic programs have since grown, along with multiple sports being added. This increase in users sparked an interest for the athletic department to look in to a Carver Center facelift.
Augustana’s Athletic Director, Mike Zapolski, has been working on this project for about two years. He believes this renovation will help all Augustana athletics.
“It’s exciting because it’s something that’s going to benefit all of our student athletes,” Zapolski said. “It’s not something that lifts up one or two programs. It’s across the board.”
Zapolski started working on the project with men’s track and field’s assistant coach, David Gonzalez. One reason Gonzalez pushed for this renovation is because he is an Augustana alum and the equipment that is here today was the same equipment he used when he was a student 15 plus years ago.
“I’m an Augie alum and believe strength training is an asset to all of athletics,” Gonzalez said. “I also look at things from an efficiency standpoint and our current layout and setup was not able to serve the 700+ student athletes that we have on the campus.”
Because of the increase of athletes, many students spend their time waiting on equipment, especially the larger teams. Gonzalez thinks the renovation will help fix this problem for his 100 person track team and all the others.
“We can fairly comfortably fit the majority of our team in the room at a given time, which will also benefit the entire department because now a single large program won’t need to reserve the weight room multiple times to accommodate roster size,” Gonzalez said.
Not only is the renovating focused on pleasing current students. Hundreds of perspective students and recruits tour the room annually, and the staff want it to look appealing. Zapolski said it does not have a “wow” factor when people walk past it and they want that to change.
In order to fund this project, the Athletic Department needs to raise $300,000. This money will come from alumni, friends of the college and whoever wants to donate. None of it comes from student tuition fees.
To get some help for fundraising, Augustana hired Kyle Ekberg as the Athletics Gift Officer in the summer of 2017. Ekberg’s job consists of reaching out to these individuals to ask about donating to the college, specifically towards something that holds meaning to them.
“Everybody sees the benefit, but finding the right ones who really have a passion for strength training and for this particular project takes the most work,” Ekberg said. “Piecing together those people that really benefited from the weight room when they were here or have a passion for that, this helps them contribute in a way that matters to them.”
Some people have misconceptions about where the money comes from. Just as many other campus projects, the funding comes from donors who volunteer to spend their money. Ekberg has had to reiterate this to some who do not fully understand.
“This is really about helping people who are generous and who want to help their alma mater continue to be successful. Without it, we won’t be successful,” Ekberg said.
The team hopes to acquire the funds by the middle of May in order to get the renovation started this summer. If that goal is not achieved, they will have to wait until winter break or the following summer.

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Athletic Department Announces Strength Center Renovation