A for Athlete


College in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Calvin Opens Olympic Sized Pool[]

Grand Rapids, MI , January 7th, 2009

The keys to the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex and Venema Aquatic Center were given to Calvin College last Friday afternoon. Calvin president Dr. Gaylen Byker was there to accept the keys from Christman Construction Company Senior Vice President Jim Cash. Members of the media and groups of individuals from the Calvin community were in attendance for the event.

Highlighting the opening was the Venema Aquatic Center, a 50-meter x 25-yard facility with movable bulkhead.

Van Noord Arena includes four full-sized basketball and volleyball courts, two fitness facilities, classrooms and staff offices, locker rooms, an athletic training room more than double the size of the former room, improved concession facilities and juice bar, a hospitality area, a spacious lobby area and even a climbing wall.

"This facility is a wonderful gift to our students and this community,” said Glen Van Andel, a recreation professor emeritus who co-chaired the committee that planned the $50 million Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex (SFC) project.

"These really are state-of-the-art facilities," said Calvin women’s athletic director Nancy Meyer. "The new pool has been designed to be extremely fast and versatile. You might think that water is water, but the way that pools are designed and built now actually makes them much faster than they were when our original pool was built. Also, the diving well will have an aeration system which makes the landing 'softer' for divers.

Already the team is moving ahead, as Calvin will become a site to the Total Performance Swim Camp, founded by Kenyon College head coach Jim Steen.

The Venema Aquatic Center features an Olympic-sized pool with a moveable bulkhead to accommodate multiple events at the same time. As wide as the former pool was long, the new pool is 14 feet deep at the diving end, four feet deep in the middle for swimming lessons and instruction, and seven feet deep at the starting blocks.

The Huizenga Tennis and Track Center houses a 200-meter (one-eighth mile) track wrapping around four competition tennis courts. The facility also features two long jump pits and two pole vault boxes or pits. It will be used by Calvin varsity teams—and also by the student body as a whole—for indoor running when the weather is inclement, for recreational activities such as indoor soccer and for physical education classes.

The old Calvin Fieldhouse, meanwhile, will be converted into a multipurpose facility, the Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center. All of the upper bleachers will be removed from the old facility, creating space for much needed classrooms including a human performance lab—a critical part of the college's exercise science program. The fieldhouse also will feature a new dance studio and a renovated dance studio providing space for the expanding Dance Guild activities and the popular HPERDS dance minor.

The new SFC will enhance the academic experience for students studying exercise science, sports management, therapeutic recreation, dance and more in the health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport (HPERDS) department; it will give the popular intramural program at Calvin room to grow; and it will provide superb fitness and recreational facilities to the Calvin community.

"The new buildings will be great for our varsity teams," said Calvin women’s athletic director Nancy Meyer. "But in addition to being an athletic director I am a professor, so I know what these buildings will add to our academic programs. For any student taking a HPERDS course, whether that be in recreation, using the rock climbing wall, or in exercise science, using the new human performance lab, these facilities will be a big plus.”

"We want to provide students with knowledge and habits about academic subjects, but also about lifestyle choices and developing habits that will last a lifetime,” Byker said. “We do this in hundreds of ways a semester in the areas of spiritual and mental health. But as a Christian college I believe we also need to make a commitment to physical health. The Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex will allow us to do that in ways we have not been able to in the past."

Byker said the support of lead donors has been critical to the success of the project, and gratifying.

"These additions have been part of our campus master plan for many years," he says, "and they are long overdue. When we have talked to donors about the project, they have recognized the need and worth of what we are planning. They understand the importance of this project and how it fits into our mission as a Christian, liberal arts college. That has been very satisfying."