SMWC breaks ground on new sports and recreation center

December 3rd, 2013 | Betsy Wells

SMWC Breaks Ground

SMWC President Dottie King and community leaders prepare to break ground for the new Jeanne Knoerle Sports & Recreation Center.  L to R: Ralph Wagle (Garmong Construction); Sr. Lisa Stallings (Sisters of Providence); Norm Lowery, (First Financial Corporation); Mike Ciolli (Vigo Co. Commissioner); Marcia Reder Schmidt, 1972 SMWC Graduate, and Jerry Schmidt (Co-Chairs of the Pomeroy Pride Campaign); Dottie King (SMWC President); Duke Bennett (Terre Haute Mayor); Ken Brengle (Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce) and Steve Robinson (URS)

Jeanne Knoerle Sports and Recreation Center
Rendering of the front of SMWC's Jeanne Knoerle Sports and Recreation Center

Shovels entered the ground on Dec. 3, 2013, on Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) campus as a decade-long vision of the new sports and recreation center was finally coming to fruition. Over 300 students, staff, faculty, alums and friends gathered at the site of the future building as SMWC President Dottie King, Ph.D.,  spoke about the Pomeroy Pride campaign and thanked all of those who contributed to the success.

“I hope you can feel the excitement and deep joy in our hearts today,” said King. The campaign to build a new sports and recreation center has been a dream for many years and is a journey that has carried on through the vision of three SMWC presidents.

King announced that the new facility would be named after the late Jeanne Knoerle, Sister of Providence and former SMWC president. Knoerle was a Sister of Providence for 62 years as well as an encouraging mentor, author, educator and theologian, continuing the legacy of educating women for positions of leadership began by the College and Congregation's foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. She was a 1949 graduate of SMWC and held several positions at the College, including serving as professor, president from 1968-1983, chancellor from 1984 to 1988 and co-chancellor from 1988-2013. 

Though the College is moving forward with construction, the campaign has not officially concluded. The opportunity remains for friends, alums, faculty and staff to share in the campaign’s success by adding to this historic time in the life of the College. The College’s advancement team will continue to work to close the Pomeroy Pride campaign, as another $1.1 million is needed to meet the goal of $11 million.

“This is a proud moment for The Woods, made possible through the passion, loyalty and vision of our partners, alums and friends,” said King. “I am honored and humbled by the generosity that the donors have shown.”

Other speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony included Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett; Marcia Reder Schmidt, 1972 graduate of SMWC, and Jerry Schmidt, campaign co-chairs; and Ralph Wagle of Garmong Construction.

Marcia Schmidt ’72 and Jerry Schmidt chose to be the chairs of the campaign committee because they envisioned what a sports and recreation center would do for The Woods.

“This building, nestled among others a hundred years old, will merge tradition and innovation,” states Marcia Schmidt ’72. “It is a place for us all to feel connected –where young women can cheer on their classmates during a game, alums can swell with school spirit and the Wabash Valley can join The Woods community. It is a place for us all to feel Pomeroy Pride.”

King explained that the successful conclusion to this campaign matters the most to the students. “They will have a place for their home basketball games where the entire campus can cheer them on which is nothing less than what other colleges and universities offer. And the non-athletes will have a place for intramurals and a place to workout in the fitness center.”

The new addition to campus will bode well for student recruitment as well. Currently, each basketball player/coach travels approximately 2,500 miles each season to practices and home games in Clinton, Ind. By the time they leave and return to campus, they have invested over 3.5 hours daily just for 2 hours of practice.

“Trying to explain to a recruit that she will drive almost 30 miles round-trip off campus every day to play on a high school floor has been beyond difficult,” states Deanna Bradley, SMWC athletic director. “We are blessed to have, and have had the players we recruited over the years commit to us knowing the situation.”

Since the estimated 45,000 square foot facility will be completed in 10 months, most of the current students will be able to experience campus life with the new sports and recreation center. 

“Having the new facility is the opportunity to have more time in the gym because we won’t have to drive 20 minutes just to go to practice,” stated Na-Shaunda Rayford,, freshmen basketball player from Anderson, Ind. “It will be exciting to have the Rose-Hulman [Institute of Technology] game here for the first time. It will be a good feeling to be a part of that.”

The building site will be located at the west edge of campus, behind the Mary and Andy Rooney Library. The facility will include a NCAA regulation-sized gym seating approximately 1,000 spectators, a practice gym for auxiliary revenue and intramural sports, a 2,000 sq. ft. lobby, locker rooms, a training room, a fitness room, offices, and ample storage space. Additionally, the facility will be verified with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) environmental certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Having the facility not only means that SMWC home games and practices will truly be home; outdoor teams will have a place to train indoors when weather requires it; the fitness equipment will be available for athletes and non-athletes alike; and SMWC will add an intercollegiate volleyball program.

“As we contemplate the function of this facility, we are currently only touching on the tip of the iceberg as to the possibilities,” states Bradley. “Once we have had the opportunity to reside in the facility a year or two, our options will continue to grow.”