By NIKKI YOUNK
IRON RIVER - Students, businesses, and community members are joining forces to help West Iron County Schools create a brand new fitness center.
Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
West Iron County Schools is creating a state-of-the-art fitness center for students. Standing on the brand new fitness center floor are, from left, Kevin Leonoff, physical education teacher; Andrew Peterson, student; Rob Rottier of Connor Sports Flooring; Tyler Stafford, student; and Mike Berutti, high school principal and athletic director.
Located above the Charles Greenlund Gym, the center will replace the existing wrestling and weight rooms.
The first phase of the project was completed last week, when Connor Sports Flooring of Amasa delivered the flooring materials for the existing wrestling room.
Members of the West Iron football team and their coaches helped unload and install the new floor.
"We want the kids to feel ownership over the project, too," said Mike Berutti, who serves as the school's principal, athletic director, and varsity football coach. "They're really excited, they're already asking to help when the equipment comes in."
New weight lifting equipment will be coming in early April, and the first room of the center should be fully-functional by mid-April.
Subsequent phases of the project will add new flooring, paint, and cardio equipment to the existing weight room.
Berutti pointed out that, when completed, the new center will be 2,500 square feet and will comfortably fit all members of a team at once.
"The old weight room could only fit half of the football team," he explained. "When we get the entire team lifting at once, we won't be wasting practice time waiting."
Football players will not be the only ones using the new fitness center. All of the school's teams and the students in the school's weight lifting classes will benefit.
"It will satisfy everyone's needs, whether they're on the football team, cross country team, or anyone from the student body," said Berutti.
Denise Maloney, health and wellness coordinator for West Iron, added that the center is part of West Iron's commitment to creating a healthier generation.
"While schools' number one priority is academic, equally important is helping our students embrace healthy lifestyle goals that will carry them over a lifetime, long after they have left our hallways and classrooms," she said. "The fitness center will be supervised at all times to ensure proper technique is being used, and instruction will be taught on how to use all the equipment safely and correctly."
Raising money for the $35,000 project has been a collaborative effort.
Students showed their support through the recent lift-a-thon. They collected either flat pledges or per pound pledges from friends and family members, then lifted as much as they could.
Additional funding came from the school's annual golf outing and football camp, and a grant from the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
Several area businesses, including Connor Sports Flooring and Holm Builders, contributed time and assistance to the project.
Rob Rottier of Connor Sports Flooring was especially interested in the project because he is a West Iron graduate.
"Kids become champions, and it's important to keep them here and off the streets," he said. "We want to help out in any way."
Joe, Nick, and Nathan Holm of Holm Builders are also West Iron graduates.
The school is still looking to raise about $10,000 to complete the fitness center.
Anyone who is interested in making a donation can drop it off at the high school office or mail it to West Iron County High School, Attn: Weight Room/Fitness Center Project, 701 Garfield Ave., Iron River, MI, 49935.
Any questions can be directed to Berutti at (906) 265-5184 or Maloney at (906) 265-6141.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.