By Courtney Westlake
An emotional event. A blessing. A symbol and a metaphor. Students and staff each had varying descriptions for the opening of the new recreation and athletic center, but each agreed on one thing: they are proud.
On Wednesday, September 26, the University of Illinois at Springfield held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the state-of-the-art recreation and athletic center (TRAC) in front of a packed crowd of campus and community members.
The ceremony was part of a full day’s worth of events at the new facility. The morning kicked off with the Sam Madonia Show broadcasting live from the atrium of TRAC, complete with interviews from Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, JT Timmons, director of recreational sports, Cynthia Thompson, director of student life, and more.
TRAC also held an open house Wednesday morning so that students, faculty, staff and members of the Springfield community could view the $16.2 million center that boasts a 3,000-seat performance arena, which converts into three basketball and volleyball courts, a multi-purpose exercise room, a suspended running track, new exercise machines and new televisions throughout.
The construction of the TRAC was made possible through student fees and a generous $1 million donation by the Hoogland Family Foundation of Charles and Kathleen Hoogland.
Several students and staff stood up to speak at the dedication.
"It's more than a recreation center; it's a symbol," said Bob Skorczewski, a graduate student and Student Government Association president. "And it's not only a symbol of the way UIS is moving, but for the youth in the state and the country. Whether it's something small like starting a small club on campus or building a new recreation facility, the students of UIS are doing things."
Ali Janezic, a third year volleyball player, was part of the first team to play a match in the new gymnasium.
"All of us student athletes have been looking forward to getting in here for a long time," she said. "Walking into TRAC is really a dream. I know that playing here is an honor for every student athlete. The opportunity to continue on with something we love in the midst of such growth on a campus that we love is truly a blessing."
A dedication picnic took place after the ribbon-cutting, with refreshments and music. More tours were also given of the facility and its impressive features.
"This is an institution that is rooted in its past, proud of its presence, and excited about its present," Ringeisen said.