The Campaign: Holistic Approach
$49.5M for the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex

One conspicuous feature of the new $49.5 million Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex will be the 50-by-40-foot indoor climbing wall, which will be visible from the facility's entrance. The wall is not a luxury item on the fieldhouse blueprint, but an integral piece of fitness equipment. It is also a symbol of a new direction in physical recreation-anywhere outdoors.

Ryan Walter Rooks

Ryan Walter Rooks

The climbing wall is one example of how the new fieldhouse-which also incorporates a new arena, a tennis and track facility, a competition-sized pool, a health center, performance labs and dance studios-is designed for a new generation of Calvin students.

"The new complex will serve the entire student body," said health, physical education, recreation, dance and sports department chair Don DeGraaf. "For this generation of Calvin students, fitness is a significant priority and being able to offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities is very important for us as a college. From the moment they arrive on campus students are looking for ways in which they can stay active. The building will allow us to fulfill the mission of the department to provide all students with educational experiences that encourage and equip them to live lives of celebration and service to God. We want to-as a department and a college-be able to serve our students, faculty and staff as they seek to stay healthy."

The Calvin Climbing Club is one example of students seeking out a way to remain active. "Our students are addicted to fitness," said campus recreational director Ryan Walter Rooks. "A diversity of recreational offerings is a top priority for them.

Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex

View drawings of the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex

"In the fall, we'll have a group of 20 to 30 active climbers come together," he said.

The students, he explained, are rigorously trained, and the group leaders are certified in safe climbing techniques. They climb together off campus two to three times a week, refining their skills. The group also provides leadership and training for climbing trips hosted by other student groups.

"Students are choosing outdoor recreation as the way they spend their leisure time. Once students have been exposed to an outdoor pursuit, it's hook, line and sinker for a percentage of them."

Calvin alum Mike Tolsma '06 is among that percentage. Tolsma first tried climbing as a junior, pursued the sport avidly and co-founded the Calvin Climbing Club. "It's really fun. If you have a certain personality type and enjoy athletic endeavors with some form of perceived risk [different from actual risk, he emphasized] you will get the climbing bug," said Tolsma, who recently climbed Mount Denali in Alaska. "It's a pretty unique community of people who do it."

The new fieldhouse will allow expanded offerings for both indoor and outdoor recreational enthusiasts, Walter Rooks said. It will also serve as a health and fitness center for the entire Calvin community. He's already making plans: "I'm envisioning expansive club activity, student organization and other group events, fitness classes for faculty and staff, and alumni events. It won't stop," he promised. "There will always be someone climbing that wall."