District Attorney Sutter Speaks at the New Umass Fitness Center Grand Opening
Article Date: December 12, 2013
From The Standard Times
By Auditi Guha
DARTMOUTH — The blue curtain fell back to reveal rows of students working out on state-of-the-art cardio equipment to the thumping beats of In Flames’ “Ropes” in a bright new gym space overlooking UMass Dartmouth’s snow-covered grounds.
“Hello Corsairs, can you break a sweat?” cried Chancellor Divina Grossman at the grand opening ceremony of the revamped fitness center Wednesday.
The $5 million expansion project renovated the old space and built an extension to double it from 8,000 to 16,000 square feet. It includes 50 new exercise machines, multipurpose aerobics and spin rooms, a new varsity athlete lifting room, a free weight area and lots of full-length windows for natural light.
“I am very excited because UMass Dartmouth is unstoppable,” Grossman said. “Already we are seeing more students flock to the fitness center. Like the library, where student use has tripled, this is a place where you can gather and make it your home.”
Caitlin Dorr, 21, a graphic design student who runs cross country and track, said she used the old space all the time, but often found it crowded or the machines occupied. Now she gets to work out almost every day.
“Now, even at peak hours at 3 p.m., there’s still plenty of room to move around and enough equipment available,” she said, wearing a blue Corsairs T-shirt with “We are UMass Dartmouth” printed on the back.
Men’s basketball coach Brian Baptiste, who has been at UMD for three decades, recalled when there was no fitness center to speak of.
“This is outstanding for us and it makes a huge difference,” he said.
Blue and gold balloons, student-made athletic videos and Arnie Corsairs, the school mascot, brightened the ceremony that had more than 150 people packing the new space.
Interim Director of Athletics Amanda Van Voorhis said the new facility opened in October and has already seen record use. Last November, 8,600 people used the old fitness center; this November the number was 12,800.
“The opening of this center is a win-win for everyone,” she said. “It’s a means to attract students and retain them.”
“This is easily the best gym that I have ever had the pleasure of being in,” said senior Mike Thomas, co-captain of the university’s football team and president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. “It is truly a dream come true.”
In their speeches, Chancellor Grossman, UMass Board of Trustees Vice Chair and alumni Maria Furman, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter and State Rep. Chris Markey, D-Dartmouth, all spoke about the importance of maintaining healthy bodies and minds for the best all-round education and growth.
“This is a great opportunity for anyone associated with UMass Dartmouth to get into shape,” said Sutter. “The relationship between healthy bodies and healthy minds has been talked about all the way back to the Greeks. In my office, we’ve seen how fitness and sports are a barrier to crime and a path to success.”
“I was exactly where you were a few decades ago, but if I had this opportunity I would’ve been much smarter and healthier — and probably taller,” said Furman.
Markey said he felt “fat and out of shape” just being in the facility surrounded by the young Corsairs, and encouraged students to use their college years to work out and stay in shape.
“Don’t lose this time to take care of yourself,” he said. “Darn, I wish I was back in college.”