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A home for health: MW facility opens

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WORTHINGTON — Mike Fury can’t count the number of hours he spent in the old gym.

In fact, it’s probably measured in days.

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But with the renovations and additions to the Center for Health and Wellness complete, the long-time girls’ basketball coach —and former Bluejay player himself —will have a new place to call home.

“It was a good facility, but it was really time,” Fury said. “It’s time to be in 2013 and we weren’t.”

The college recently remodeled the 18,592-square-foot existing structure, plus added 9,323 square feet. The total cost of the project was $5.5 million.

After nearly a year of construction, the facility is complete. The college will host a public open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Center for Health and Wellness.

Old gym dates back to 1969

The old gym still remains, but it is barely recognizable. It was in that structure Fury spent countless hours — and days — as a player and coach.

“I’d hate to add them up,” Fury said. “It’s probably a year or two. That’s kind of scary. You consider game nights; we used to have a summer league that was out of this world before the AAU era. We used to have a great summer league here and we would be here two or four nights a week, about six hours a night with summer basketball. We had that included in there. With game nights and coaching practices, oh my gosh. I bet I’ve been in there three or four years.”

As for wins, Fury saw his fair share of success in the old gym.

“I shouldn’t admit this, but we baptized it in the fall of 1969 when I played,” Fury said. “We were the first two teams — the first few years I played here were the first few years of the old gym.

“We had two state championship teams there under Arlo Mogck,” Fury continued. “We opened it up under fine fashion. A lot of the community colleges were built in similar fashion — pretty much a block building, a square building with bleachers on one side throughout the state. That was kind of the trend at that time.”

Besides two years of playing, Fury coached for 32 years in the old gym. He estimates he oversaw 250 wins during his career.

“I think we always have had a great home court advantage — teams coming into Minnesota West and Worthington Community College, whatever it was,” Fury said. “Part of that is because we had good teams as a player and as a coach, we’ve had good teams over the years. I don’t think we’re going to lose that because this just added a little more to it.”

New facility brings new enthusiasm

With the new facility comes a new sense of excitement.

“I’m kind of sad to see that go, but not really,” Fury said. “We’re state of the art now, so there’s more excitement than sadness to be closing the door on the old gym.”

The new facility is one to be proud of, according to Minnesota West President Richard Shrubb.

“I’m really pleased, not only with the product, but with the way it came together with multiple agencies over time,” Shrubb said.

In fact, the project began before Shrubb even became president. He said much of the praise deserves to go to former president Ron Wood.

“Ron got the project started,” Shrubb said. “Our chief finance officer, Lori Voss — the two of them really did tremendous work even before I got here to get it going.

“I liked the way the agencies all came together — the YMCA, the DeGroot Family, the state of Minnesota and the college,” he added. “I’m just really proud of the way the thing turned out, and also the way it all came together.”

A new entrance was constructed, which includes a multi-purpose room.

Inside, the former outside wall of the gym still remains, but a spacious lobby greets visitors.

“I’m really happy with the lobby, especially,” Shrubb said. “When you walk in, we always wanted a nice, big welcoming feeling. When you walk in that facility, it’s nice and gives people a place to stand and warm up before they go into the game and talk to each other.”

The new addition includes a classroom space that can be utilized for many different activities.

“I just encourage that kind of lifestyle among the people who can come and not necessarily participate in our sports, but can come by and take a class on proper nutrition or memory aid or diabetes prevention,” Shrubb said. “Anything like that is very important to us, as we serve the whole Worthington and Nobles County community.”

Also included in the new addition are two visitor locker rooms. Before, teams would have to share on game nights.

“We have four locker rooms now — we don’t have to share the locker rooms,” Fury said. “Everybody shared. Men’s basketball, wrestling, women’s basketball, home and visitors shared locker rooms. To not have to do that anymore is wonderful.”

The concession stand was moved and expanded, plus two new bathrooms were constructed. A connection to the Worthington Area YMCA was added. Coaches offices and a conference room were remodeled, a referee locker room was added and a new training room was constructed that allows access from both locker rooms.

“Anytime you have a visiting school come up to your campus for an event — not only athletics, but whatever the event may be — you really want people to have a comfortable and impressive place to go to,” Shrubb said. “We’re just happy to be able to represent Worthington in a way that makes us proud when other towns and cities come to Worthington.”

One wall of the gym was expanded, allowing for more seating. In all, 411 new seats were added, making a total of 883 now in the gym.

The floor was expanded, re-sanded and stained.

“When you step into the gymnasium, I think the first thing I notice is the floor,” Fury said. “We did a great job with the finish, the paint choices, the stain. It’s just very, very nice. That’s what my attention first went to — the floor itself. Then the surroundings, you just can’t beat it. New bleachers on the east, the scoreboards are sensational, new paint. It’s a very, very nice facility.”

From a technology standpoint, the new gym will feature a video board as well as mounted cameras.

“When you throw the video board in, nobody has that,” Fury said. “The camera functions are outstanding, and there is a new sound system. We didn’t leave much out, which is really nice.”

The college also utilizes smart-grid technology to electronically control the lighting. Occupancy, motion and infrared sensors in each space are connected to a computerized facility control system. The new lighting in the gymnasium has high bay reflective fluorescent fixtures that provide a brighter space with less electrical energy.

Outside, the college is using geothermal heating. There are 72 wells each measuring 250 feet deep for a closed loop ground source system to heat and cool the facility.

And, after a year of being displaced, players, coaches, students and fans will be able to finally enjoy a game on the Minnesota West campus.

“I told the sophomores they have never played a home game — volleyball or basketball,” Fury said. “They have a home court now, which is kind of nice. They’ve been very patient with the construction and so have the coaches. It’s hard being on the road for a whole year. We have a home court now, so hopefully we can take advantage of it like we used to.”

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