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News & Stories: 2009-10

Hoogenboom-ingJuly 2, 2009

The wall of bleachers on the north end of the old Calvin fieldhouse has disappeared, and the upper tiers of bleachers to the west and east are likewise gone. The dropped ceiling has vanished. But the hard maple floor that hosted more than 1,000 basketball games and countless intramural contests is still there, and it retains its honey-colored finish.

A hint of the past

basketball players in hoogenboom"There’s a little hint of what it used to be, and everybody likes that,” said dance professor Ellen Van’t Hof of the view of the old floor from the second-floor balcony of the new Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center.

The Hoogenboom Center, the only component of the $50 million Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex that wasn't built from scratch, opened in early June. The new facility is a complete re-envisioning of the former space: “It takes on a different personality than the old fieldhouse did,” said Glen Van Andel, retired chair of the health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport (HPERDS) department. "It really represents for us the academic center of the whole HPERDS department."

The Hoogenboom Center contains classrooms, a human performance laboratory, the office of health services and two dance studios: one remodeled and one new.

The new studio is built on the upper level of the facility at the site of the old “east gym.”

"The new one is much bigger, more than twice as big,” said Van’t Hof of the 100-by-50 foot space, which features a specialized vinyl floor. “It’s especially good for ballet and tap. We’ve never had a safe place to do those,” she said. Adjoining the new studio is a smart classroom for teaching the theory and history of dance. The remodeled 30-by-40 foot studio (now referred to as “the loft”) will retain its hardwood floor for jazz and other styles of dancing.

Space and movement

staff and faculty practice yoga in the refurbished dance studioNearly 400 dancers—including dance guild members and ballroom dance enthusiasts—make use of HPERDS facilities and classes. “We have grown as a dancing student body,” said Van’t Hof. She’s eager to see that population in the new studio.  “I can’t wait to see students … leaping and turning and skipping, going that whole distance … ,” she said. “I can’t wait to fill that space with movement.”

The site of the former west gym on the lower level of Hoogenboom is the new home of health services. “I would say it’s the Biltmore of college health centers,” said Calvin director of health services Nancy VerMerris of the new digs. “It’s a beautiful place that allows us to more fully do what we are doing.”

The new 6,000 square foot Marian Hoogenboom Health Services includes a spacious lobby and reception area, five exam rooms and a procedure room. The facilities give Calvin’s nurse practitioners ample space and equipment to treat common illnesses and injuries and offer physical exams, prescriptions, vaccinations and other primary care services to Calvin students.

The new procedure room is equipped with a separate airflow system. “That allows us to assess a communicable disease in a completely different environment. If we have a case of SARS or H1N1, we don’t have to worry about that spreading to another area,” VerMerris said.

Expanded services

the new health servicesHealth Services staff are already brainstorming about additional ways to use their brand-new facilities: “We would really like to be much more involved with preventative health for students. We have really not had a choice for doing that in the last 40 years,” VerMerris said. “We want to bring in specialists for screenings, for dermatology. We’ve only been here two weeks, and we’re just realizing all of the opportunities that exist for us that have not existed before.”

Just upstairs from health services, some of the equipment is installed in the new human performance lab. When fully equipped—with treadmills, ergometers, micro spirometers, a metabolic analysis system, a bioelectric impedance analysis computer and the many other instruments of the exercise science field—the new 3,000 square foot facility will be a teaching lab where Calvin exercise science students assess people’s physical fitness.

"Our students work with people all the time,” said HPERDS professor Julie Walton, whose students evaluate clients' cardio-vascular fitness and body composition and perform body mechanic and gait analysis. “Whoever comes and needs our help, we assign students for the whole spring semester to come and work one-on-one. Now we are able, with some sense of hospitality, to welcome people from the community.”

Higher performance

The former human performance lab held eight students, which meant that Walton had to teach five lab sessions for a class of 40. The expanded facility allows Walton to teach her students all together. “It incredibly increases my efficiency,” she said.

The new facility will also be a learning lab, allowing HPERDS colleagues from different concentrations to study, for instance, the effects of exercise on children with autism or the elderly. “We want to look at how we can use the lab as a real axis for collaborating on research agendas,” Walton said. “The sky is the limit now.”

Director of campus wellness Roy Zuidema is likewise optimistic about expanding Healthy Habits programs in the Hoogenboom Center. He’s been holding classes there, in the classrooms and dance studios, since the facility opened. “There are actually four Healthy Habits classes going on at the same time,” Zuidema said. "We’ve never been able to do that before. It’s so neat to see— even in the summertime, there’s a class here and a class in the pool. For those of us in our department, it’s a dream come true.”

Past and future

Zuidema confessed, however, that he was most inspired by the return of a particular group of exercisers to Hoogenboom: the staff and faculty who have played pickup volleyball and basketball in the fieldhouse for many years: “I’m a nostalgic-type person,” he said. “I think that when the noontime basketball and volleyball players were able to come back, it was a joy.”

One of those players, mathematics and statistics professor Gary Talsma said he felt right at home: “It feels cool, especially on a day like this … ,” Talsma said of the newly-installed air conditioning in Hoogenboom, "but it’s quite a bit the same out on the old floor.”

The Calvin community is invited to a celebration service for the opening of the Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 22.

~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing

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