“State of the art” design released for Fitness Center

A sneak peek at the new Panther Fitness Center


artist's rendering of new PFC

New individual lift stations will allow many more users at the same time.

The hot topic around Elder these days is the construction of the soon to be “state of the art” Panther Fitness Center. The fitness center will be the newest addition to the school since 1979, so there’s no question why students, faculty, and alumni are raving about this new facility.

As many know, the one making all this happen is 2008 Elder grad, and current tight end for the Minnesota Vikings, Kyle Rudolph. Kyle was generous enough to donate money back to Elder to help fund the construction of something he saw value in: a weight room.

I talked with Kyle’s cousin Connor Keyes and he told me, “When Kyle got his first big contract a couple years ago, he said that this was one of his plans to give back to Elder.” Kyle has done some great things over the years not only for Elder, but for the city of Cincinnati and his newest home, Minnesota. Keyes told me about Kyle’s involvement with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and how supportive he is with that organization.

I talked with coach Espelage about dealing with Kyle and how the process has been going so far.

“Easy, and all of our donors as well. Kyle has been very hands off.” He told me that they are still trying to acquire more money to complete it in its entirety but all is going well. Obviously this is a big addition for the school as a whole, so I asked what benefits it brings.

Coach Espelage told me, “IT’S HUGE, HUGE, and HUGE. It more than doubles our workout space with the completion of the second floor. It allows for flexibility as far as off-season workouts. It just provides us with the extra space we need.” Huge is a great way to describe it, given the fact that it adds more space for athletes to not only train but rehab as well.

It more than doubles our workout space with the completion of the second floor. It allows for flexibility as far as off-season workouts.

— Athletic Director Kevin Espelage

Coach Rankin, along with many other students, are beyond ready for this masterpiece to be build and ready for use. When he found out about the news he stated, “I was ecstatic, it had just got to the point where our facility couldn’t hold the number of student athletes we were training.” Words can’t describe how excited and fortunate coach Rankin is to be able to train students in such a “state of the art” facility.

The news everyone wants to know: what new things can we expect in the new weight room? According to coach Rankin, there will be nine multi-station racks allowing for a total of twenty-seven stations versus the eight we have now in the Donahoe Center. There will be nine inlay platforms containing the logo of the panther in the center. A special edition will be the injury purpose training line which will help deal with injured athletes and rehab.

A large dumbbell area will be added with the old dumbbells from the Donahoe Center. You can expect brand new cast iron plates as coach Rankin told me he wanted to stick to the roots of the Elder Strength program. He said cast iron exemplifies a “blue collar work ethic” that Elder has prided itself on for many years. The trophy cases will be torn out from the cafeteria and put into the weight room holding all of Elder’s most prized accomplishments. More machines will be added including two to three lat pulldown and glut hamstring stations.

AC will also be added which will be a much different change in temperature compared to the old weight room. Coach Rankin also added, “I haven’t had a window to look at natural light for fourteen years, and now I will finally have some.”

As far as expectations go coach Rankin said, “nothing will change as far as my expectations of student athletes.” He plans to apply his same training methods and push his guys to the best of their ability, the same as it’s always been.

I think it’s safe to say that the days of the old, humid, smelly, gritty Donahoe center will be missed dearly by all the students. Nothing makes a better lifting session than getting drenched in sweat with no AC on a one hundred and ten-degree summer day.