New facility launches rock-climbing wall, indoor track, weight room, basketball courts and fitness classes

GARY ALLEN - Students on the indoor running track (above) and cardio deck and weight room (below) take full advantage of the recently opened Hadlock Center at GFU.

By Mollisande Williams

Newberg Graphic intern

The Hadlock Student Center officially opened Sept. 19 at George Fox University. The new building, located across from the Canyon Commons dining hall, contains new facilities for students, including a full gym, elevated indoor track, basketball courts and rock climbing wall.

In addition, the new center has a designated area for the school's student government and recreational equipment is also available for rent to students and staff. GARY ALLEN - Liz Simmons, a staff member at the Hadlock Student Center, tries her hand at a bouldering route on the climbing wall.

"The rental center is something that Fox has never had before and the fact that students can come rent kayaks, paddleboards, tents, sleeping bags or hammocks is awesome," said Rob Simpson, director of campus recreation. "It's an amazing service for students and employees."

He added that when creating a vision for the facility he wanted the space to provide the opportunity for students to be healthy.

"If students are physically healthy, they're more likely to be academically, spiritually and socially healthy," Simpson said. "There's a clear link between those."

Emery Miller, a student and front desk worker at Hadlock, noticed students have been excited to use the center as an outlet and a place to express themselves. GARY ALLEN - Student take advantage of the cardio deck and weight room at the recently opened Hadlock Center at GFU.

"People that come in are almost never by themselves; it's a real community feel when you're here," he said.

The 48,000 square-foot facility was ultimately designed in order to accommodate more students. Wheeler Sports Center, the university's previous main athletic facility, was too small for the number of students who utilized it.

"There was almost this tension between athletes who would have to work out and other students who just want to work out and be healthy," Miller said.

Now, student athletes are free to exercise and train by themselves in Duke Sports Center and Wheeler Sports Center. All other students have access to a bigger facility that will avoid crowding or frustration.

Hadlock was initially set to open at the beginning of fall semester in late August, but it was delayed two weeks. Students were sent e-mails announcing the hold-up and some expressed disappointment. Simpson said he didn't encounter too many angry students, but he felt some frustration himself.

"When you consider the size and scope of this project and how complex it was, a two-week delay is still pretty minor in the grand scheme of things," he said. Glass walls and scoreboards were only some of the steps to finishing the center that were ordered and still have not yet arrived.

One student explained that because of the delay, they were required to continue working out in Wheeler.

"There were multiple times where all of us non-athletes got kicked out for a team lift. The only thing was we had nowhere else to go workout at when they made us all leave," Alec Fernandez-Morales said. "In the end, the facilities are impressive, so it was probably worth the wait."

Fitness classes are in the works, according to the center's staff. A few classes are already being offered, but Simpson hopes to expand this service in the future.

"Down the road, I would love to be able to offer a full slate of classes for students – yoga, Zumba, HITT, cardio, spin. Those take qualified instructors and ideally I'd like to have students teaching those classes," he said. "There is currently no fee for these fitness classes, but if instructors need to be hired this has the possibility to change."

The overall reaction from the university community has been mostly positive, according to Hadlock staff.

"For an institution the size of George Fox to have something like this is a big deal. By and large, they've been very appreciative, very thankful and they've taken advantage of this space," Simpson said.

The facility is open to all George Fox undergraduate and graduate students, as well as employees and their families. Guests, accompanied by someone with a George Fox ID card, can utilize the center up to four times a month with a daily guest pass.

In the future, Hadlock also plans to hold "Alumni Days," where alumni can partake of any of the facility's services.

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