MISHAWAKA—The Lehman Family Training Center has been a project in the works at Bethel University since the early parts of the 21st century. From an idea in the heads of many Bethel leaders to finally being announced in 2018, to breaking ground in 2020, to the completed project in 2021, this center was long awaited. According to a fact sheet distributed by the Bethel University Athletic Department, this project took 216 days to build and sits on over five acres of land.
The building’s primary purpose is freeing up space in the Weikamp Athletic Center for many athletic teams and our students. It will also provide state-of-the-art training facilities for the Track & Field teams that boast many national titles. As a program, they hold 9 NAIA National titles, 13 NCCAA National titles, and 10 Crossroads League titles. This specialized facility is not only for the track and field teams, but for thirty other sports on Bethel’s campus who have some national titles of their own.
One of the biggest things emphasized with the opening of the Lehman Family Training Center is the additional space it brings to the campus, especially for the track and field team. This space allows them to bring all their athletes together for practices. Danny Wilkerson, the head Track and Field coach, had many teammates practicing separately before this facility was built.
“Right now, we have a practice window of about 5 hours during the middle of the day for the sprints and jumpers to get their practice in between class in Wiekamp. Throwers meet 2 hours later for 2 hours of practice time in Goodman and our distance heads outside,” Wilkerson said. “We never practice as a team, and with the new facility we could have team practices on some days of the week.”
The track and field team has never had before is having all their coaches' offices in the same area. Before, they were spread across the Wiekamp Athletic Center. Now, the team can peak into the hallway and see the coaches’ offices.
Another aspect of the training facility that Weikamp doesn’t provide is the locker rooms that the facility possesses is a fully functioning locker room, with locker rooms, showers and bathrooms.
A further benefit is one of the three athletic trainers moving into the Lehman Family Training Center full time. This allows athletes to get treatment quickly, being more efficient than before. With this, a hot tub and cold tub will be in the facility for the athletes to use. They can fit seven people each, yet with COVID-19 these numbers will be adjusted.
“Restrictions within the facility will include space restrictions and cleaning protocols,” said Jerry White, Bethel University’s Chief Financial Officer. “The availability will be the biggest thing. There is a big turf area for the throwers, but we can also use it for group activities where we can spread a decent amount of people out.”
The training facility includes equipment for both the track and field teams and the Bethel community. For the track and field team the facility contains a long jump pit, a turf field for the throwers, two pole vault areas, a weight room and an indoor track lane for events up to 120 meters.
“Currently we cannot even train the distance of the shortest race in Indoor Track and Field, the 60m dash,” Wilkerson said. “Inside the building, the athletes will be able to do a 100m sprint if we need. Another example is we have never been able to practice long jump landings into sand indoors, and now we have a sand pit.”
The list goes on and on with the many improvements this facility provides to the track and field teams, but for the Bethel community, the facility includes a community room and places for students to work out and study. The community room will be open for different activities organized by Campus Activities.
“Small-sized group activities will be taking place in the community room,” said White. “We have even had some ideas that weekly exercise classes will be held in the room, whether it be a spin class, or something of that aspect.”
Another part of the Lehman Family Training Center open for the general population is the workout facilities. It will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 10 p.m. It will also be open Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The facility will have multiple areas for students to study and hang out. These include stair bleachers and a mezzanine.
For more information about different activities in the Lehman Family Training Facility, check out the Bethel University social media pages.