The James David Ross Family Recreation Center was dedicated April 28, 2017, with ribbon-cutting ceremonies celebrating the donor-named areas, tours of the facility, and a dinner in the new building, showcasing the expanse of space available. The upgrade to W&J’s wellness facilities was made possible by the generosity of David A. Ross ’78 and other donors.
“I have no doubt the new recreation center will help us attract great athletes but most importantly, it will give every student a place to work out and stay healthy and active that they can call their own,” said Ross.
Ross named the facility for his father, James David Ross. Ross’s brothers, Gary and Curt, and his mother, Pat, were in attendance at the building’s dedication ceremony.
“As an alumnus, a Trustee, and Chair of our Property, Building and Grounds Committee, David has literally changed the face of W&J by guiding the construction of several buildings, through his generous support of Ross Memorial Park, where our highly nationally ranked baseball team plays, and by providing both the funding and the vision for the Ross Family Recreation Center,” said President Dr. Tori Haring-Smith. “We could never have done this without David’s support.”
Ross is the founder of Atlantic Realty, one of the largest privately owned real estate developers in the Washington, D.C. area. He has also been instrumental in the construction of the Swanson Science Center and the renovation of Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building.
Built in 1970, the Henry Memorial Center has served as the focal point of indoor athletic and recreational activity on the W&J campus. Since its construction, the College’s varsity, club, and intramural sport offerings have nearly tripled. Facilities have not grown as quickly to accommodate the increased demand for student fitness options.
As part of the “An Uncommon Bond” campaign, the College worked towards continuing to upgrade its athletic and wellness capabilities with the second phase of the athletic renovation project breaking ground in October 2015. The Janet Swanson Tennis Center, which opened in September 2015, completed the first phase of this five-phase project. Future phases will focus on renovations to Henry Memorial Gymnasium, including the addition of a fitness room in the former lobby, and upgrading the natatorium.
The center’s construction consisted of two core pieces. The first was the renovation of the back gymnasium in the Henry Memorial Center, which was converted into two floors of coach offices, meeting rooms, a recruiting room, and a state-of-the-art wrestling room. The second segment of phase two was the construction of a 30,000-square foot recreation center on the site that was previously the home of the four-court Swanson Tennis Court complex.
The center features an indoor track; three athletic courts lined for basketball, volleyball, and tennis; and an exercise room/yoga studio. The largest available space for yoga classes previously was the ballroom in the Rossin Campus Center, which is also used to host a large number of college events.
The athletic courts have a few bonuses for W&J varsity sports, including a full-size, retractable batting cage for the baseball and softball teams and a pole-vault box form system and pit for the track & field program. The new building, in contrast to Henry Memorial Gymnasium, is fully air-conditioned.
The W&J wrestling program, which produced six NCAA All-Americans in the past five years, has significantly upgraded its facilities. The new wrestling room features a large practice mat area that is double the size of the previous wrestling room, strength equipment, a sound system, and a viewing area for recruits and families. The office for Head Coach Thomas Prairie was donated by Ron Snee ’63, Ph.D., and Marjorie Snee.
“Our wrestling alumni, Ron Snee, Al Lindsay ’68, and many others, helped deliver the finest Division III wrestling facility around,” Director of Athletics Scott McGuinness said of the donors for the space.
In addition to the wrestling room, the second floor also houses the Dorothy A. Servis, Esq., Rehab Room. This room will alleviate the often-crowded athletic training room on the first floor of Henry. The third floor features a large team meeting room which can be converted into two separate rooms and features updated technology. It also includes a conference room, the Al Lindsay ’68 and Trish Lindsay Lounge, and a new recruiting room.
All coaches now have private offices where they can meet with students and recruits. The previous offices for many of the coaches of W&J’s 24 varsity sports were open cubicles, making personal conversations difficult.
“Our new office wing in Henry is fantastic,” added McGuinness. “We expect the offices and meeting rooms to enrich the student-athlete experience. Whether it is having a conversation with a coach, studying game film together, or just finding another quiet spot to work on their academics, the renovation of the back portion of Henry is a large step forward for our department and the College.”
The building opened to students in April, and they quickly flocked to the courts. The space available to students to play a pick-up game before was almost non-existent, as priority for the limited court capacity of Henry Memorial Gymnasium went to the varsity teams.
“Since the day we opened the James David Ross Family Recreation Center doors, I’ve noticed a lot of smiles on the faces of our students,” McGuinness said. “David Ross’s generosity and vision for this campus and our Athletic Department has been amazing.”
Did You Know?
• The new recruiting room overlooks the Henry Memorial Gymnasium and provides a welcoming space for coaches to meet with prospective student-athletes and their families.
• The three-lane running track is 167 meters in length; approximately 9 ½ laps around the track equals one mile.
• The exercise room, located in the front corner of the recreation center, has rubberized flooring that is manufactured with a wood floor appearance. All perimeter window shades in the exercise room raise from the floor rather than dropping from the ceiling to take advantage of the outside light, while still providing visual privacy during exercise classes.