Johnson Fitness Center Is Now In Great Shape
Its physical transformation is clearly a win-win for the College’s athletics program and for the school’s prospects for attracting top recruits. With the renovation and expansion of the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center that now includes the spacious Davenport Cardio Gallery, Washington College has created a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning center that heralds dramatic changes ahead.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 1, College President Mitchell Reiss applauded the work of the fundraising committee—led by John A. Moag, Jr. ’77 and Edward P. Nordberg, Jr. ’82—that brought the $2 million project to a successful conclusion, and spoke of the immediate benefits for student-athletes. “Our athletes are already growing physically stronger. Our teams are growing more competitive. We have raised the bar for intercollegiate athletic competition.” Only half-jokingly he added, “Our coaches assure me that they won’t ever lose another game.”
While enhancing the undergraduate experience for varsity athletes and fitness enthusiasts across campus, the new facility also promises to be a boon for student recruitment. “When prospective student-athletes visit a college campus, they not only look at libraries, dining halls, classrooms and dorms, they also compare athletic facilities,” noted Athletic Director Bryan Matthews ’75. “It’s a major part of the college decision. … Our coaches can’t wait to bring their recruits and parents in here to show this facility off. We’ve seen our admissions tours come through and people’s eyes just light up.”
More than 400 people were on hand for the dedication ceremony where College Trustee Benjamin H. Johnson represented the Johnson family, who made the lead gift in 1992 for the original construction of the facility that bears his grandfather’s name, as well as for the renovation.
“I want to thank Peter Davenport and his foundation for making this possible, and I also want to thank Mitchell and Elisabeth [Reiss] for leading the charge to make Washington College more fit and more competitive than ever,” noted Johnson. “We all know it’s a competitive world and we endorse the student-athlete aspect of it. Competition is part of life and it’s actually a lot of fun, but you need to be fit to have a chance.”
Ed Nordberg, the campaign co-chair, reported that donors rallied around this project because of their own experiences as student-athletes at Washington College, and because Washington College continues to uphold the highest standards of sportsmanship. Mike Cameron, the parent of two Shoremen baseball players, concurred. “I don’t want to diminish any of the efforts, but I’ve got to tell you this was a pretty easy job. Alums and parents alike have an appreciation for the role of athletics in enriching the Washington College experience. All we really had to do was reach out.”