BLOG-Gaga for Wellness Center
- Published: September 6, 2014
10:30am I pull into the parking lot of the south gym and cross paths with Valerie Claggett carrying a box of gluten free granola bars. Valerie is part of the team putting the final pieces in place for the grand opening of the Wellness Center at Antioch College.
Robert Hasek is already pouring tunes out on the quad. He has his DJ booth set up—double turntable, three-foot speakers, headset, record collection—to spin the vinyl old school. Rap, soul, and reggae are queued up as the volunteers for the afternoon event begin to congregate.
Outside the tables are set with flowers, and I can see a volleyball net and, hey, is that a gaga ball court? My kids will be so excited!
11am The food trucks have arrived and are setting up for the afternoon crowd. The center will have a snack bar next to the first floor fitness room, but this Saturday it is La Pampa Grill, Kinetic, and The Shakery Juice Bar.
11:56am Time to join the crowd for the ribbon cutting!
12:00pm The grand opening kicks off to a crowd of over 200 villagers. President Roosevelt takes the podium placed at the front entrance flanked by student representatives, project donors and builders, and village officials. He adds the wellness center to a list—Glen Helen Nature Preserve, the Antioch Theatre, and the Coretta Scott King Center for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom—of college assets that it enjoys with the Yellow Springs community and with the village joins in their restoration to full glory.
12:20pm Village Mayor David Foubert and Council President Karen Wintrow have both come with offerings to mark the occasion. Mayor Foubert leads by example and pulls out a personal check to contribute to the restoration costs of the center. He hands the check to President Roosevelt who wonders aloud how easily it might convert to a $100,000 donation. His check alone “won’t pass the bounce test”, Foubert warns but speculates that several others have brought checkbooks. The Honorable Karen Wintrow reads a proclamation declaring September 6, 2014 as Antioch College Wellness Center Day. Wintrow hands the proclamation to Roosevelt who passes it along to the student representatives. Roosevelt credits the students for pushing for today’s accomplishment hard: a fitness center on campus.
12:28pm I float among the eager crowd seeing many familiar faces filled with anticipation. Several had attended the open house earlier this summer, but the center was still a rough diamond. A gleaming gem awaits them now. I cross paths with Roger Reynolds who proudly admits that he supplied the gumbo sized scissors for the ribbon cutting. The yellow gold handle of the scissors nods to the past harkening back to the school’s historical colors of blue and gold. The ceremonial ribbon itself is deep red, so deep that it’s almost purple. The ribbon references the school’s current colors—crimson and gray—and the life blood poured into the wellness center’s restoration. The podium is removed and the crimson ribbon is stretched across the entrance.
12:32pm One, two, three… the ribbon is cut.
12:36pm I join the flow of people into the building. The building’s facade is brick with a gallery of windows on the second floor and an arcade of glass doors on the first. The entrance opens up into a lounge with two circular couches, several comfortable chairs, and a few bar tables and stools. Intent on sharing my explorations, I discover the guest wifi and the electrical outlets available on the crimson painted light fixtures next to the couches. To my left is the basketball court set up with a volleyball net and to my right is the fitness room stocked with free weights and intriguing assortment of gear. I try my hand undulating two long black training ropes before passing them off to a teenager as my family arrives.
12:45pm A puppet show by Jim and Judy Rose is due to start at 1pm in the south gym, and we are on our way there when we meet up with friends and decide to quick tour of the facility before the show begins. We walk up a flight of stairs and enter Studio B. Two men have picked up rackets and a birdie and are having a fine game of badminton. We walk another flight up to the third floor mezzanine to view their game from the balcony above. The mezzanine—which strikes me as a perfect place to set up a few rowing machines—also allows window views of the first floor basketball court and fitness room.
12:55pm Having made the vertical loop through the facility, we start a horizontal pass which takes us by the basketball court and a game of volleyball. My husband notices the uneven number of players on the court and—seeing an opportunity—asks to join. He looks like a teenager bounding off as we bid him good luck.
1pm The south gym is bedecked in long red velvet curtains. A set of seventy or so chairs have been placed in front of a small puppet theater. The theatre has blue screen with a white and red candy-striped skirt. Jim Rose—puppeteer extraordinary and Antioch alumnus—knows his audience well and is chatting with the little children who have filled in the first two rows of seats. As the seats fill up, he encourages the children forward to get closer to the action of the puppet play. My son gives up his front row seat, comes back five rows to collect me and together we sit center stage as Rose gives his final instruction. Mr Punch is his dear friend but is likely to have any number of dangerous objects flying at him. He tells them please be sure to warn Mr Punch if you see any dangers that Punch doesn’t see coming.
1:07pm We meet many characters from the traditional Punch and Judy play. There is Hector the Horse, Punch and Judy’s baby Alexander, a ghostly skeleton, the Doctor, the Constable, the devil, and even a crocodile with an enormous snout. By the end of the performance, the crocodile in particular have the children jumping up and down in a kind of gleeful terror screaming out warnings to Mr Punch.
1:30pm Once Mr Punch bids them goodbye, Rose brings out the marionette Pepito and together the children and Pepito practice hopping on one foot and then the other. Behind us the chairs are being gathered up as the multipurpose room is prepared for its next offering.
1:40pm Jeremy rejoins us and we head to the pool. In the women’s locker room, my daughter and I find a locker—number 21—and change into swimming suits. We hear a great hoop and splash from the pool area. We emerge from the locker room and take in the pool’s clear water now churning with play. My husband has not been able to convince my son to change into his swimming trunks but they watch from the pool deck as we slip into the water. The pool water feels great: a lovely 80 some degrees. Beach balls in bright solid colors of red, blue and yellow are being thrown back and forth into the air by the pool inhabitants; the smiling faces drawn on each beach ball match the expressions on the faces of the swimmers. We grab a loose blue noodle and start batting the balls around ourselves. Kids and adults are enjoying the ready supply of swim toys and props. We are also happy with what is missing: the smell of chlorine. The pool uses a special treatment system that uses ultraviolet light and a notably lower concentration of chlorine to keep the pool water clear and clean.
1:55pm My son watches us play in the water for about 10 minutes and suddenly he loses his hesitation. He starts to change out of his clothes right there on the pool deck when Dad swoops him up and takes him to the Men’s locker room. He comes back dressed in his red, white, and blue swim shorts and I catch him as jumps into the water like an eager beaver. With one arm about my shoulder and the other on our blue noodle, he gives a good strong kick and we spin about the water. My daughter takes a dive toy that her father tosses to her and starts plunging into the water after it like a dolphin.