DEFIANCE - Sarah Kuhn and her teammates at Defiance College no longer will have to hunt for a place near the school where they can work out.
Officials from the private college and the local YMCA yesterday announced plans to open a joint fitness center at a north side strip mall right near the campus.
The 7,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open in February, will be available to the public as the city's second YMCA site. It also will fill a current void at Defiance College, a campus that lacks its own fitness center.
“Obviously, everyone knows we needed something like this,” said Ms. Kuhn, 21, a senior from Defiance who plays basketball and softball. “It's going to be great coming here to work out.”
College President Dr. Gerald Wood said the facility, which will be called the Smart Fitness Center, was made possible by a $250,000 gift from Defiance College alumnus George Smart.
Mr. Smart, a former quarterback for Defiance College, graduated in 1967. He's currently president and chief executive officer of Sonoco Phoenix, Inc., of North Canton, Ohio.
The benefactor was unable to attend yesterday's announcement. But dozens of people gathered in the parking lot outside the future fitness center to hear details of the plans.
With about a dozen college students standing behind him, Dr. Wood said the now-vacant storefront at the Northtowne East Complex will be impressive once it's filled with fitness equipment.
He said he believes it will help the college attract future students while meeting the needs of current students.
“The thing we need to say are today's college students are very well aware of health and fitness,” the college president said.
Officials said the YMCA will provide a full-time manager for the center and will help maintain the site. Defiance College will provide staff from its sports science program and assist in maintaining the center.
Full-time Defiance College students will receive free memberships to use the facility.
The Northtowne complex is owned by Isaac Property Co. of Bryan, which has agreed to rent the space to the groups for a minimal fee, Dr. Wood said.
It's expected to cost $1 million to run the facility over the next five years. Dr. Wood said much of the money already has been raised, but he said fund-raising would be necessary.
Eventually, he said Defiance College officials plan to create their own permanent fitness center for students. That project is about five years away.
Glenn Kuhn, executive director of the YMCA, said a north side YMCA site has been discussed for years. He said it will complement the current facility on the city's south side.
“We probably would not have done a north side facility on our own,” Mr. Kuhn said.
He said the north side project is separate from an ongoing $1.7 million fund-raising campaign to pay for upgrades to the south side YMCA. That project includes a new gymnasium and an outside skate park, among other additions.
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