GRCC reopening Ford Fieldhouse, showcasing $8 million in upgrades

From left, GRCC volleyball players Jasmine Wellet, Dani Johnston and Jamie Wellet stand in the Ford Fieldhouse gymnasium, their court

Days before the start of second semester, volleyball players Dani Johnston, Jamie Wellet and Jasmine Wellet, stopped in to see the newly renovated Ford Fieldhouse, which hosts the team’s home games and other athletic events.

While finishing touches were still under way on the $8 million in upgrades, the athletes checked out the new entrance area, outfitted with new student study areas and concessions. In the gymnasium, they admired the shiny, refinished floor.

Assistant cross-country coach Sharon Becker said the renovated GRCC health club will allow her runners great cross-training opportunities

Throughout the facility, photos of athletes, current and dating back decades, decorated the walls. “It shows how much they care about athletics and the work we put in and what l and the other athletes put in,” said Johnston, a freshman.

“It’s really nice to have a really good facility to train in,” added team member Jamie Wellet, also a freshman.

Grand Rapids Community College officials say upgrading the fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE, provides a state-of-the-art facility tfor athletes and students.

“There’s a lot of pride in this building,” said GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray. The goal is to grow teams and bring more people in for athletic events, games and other gatherings. “It’s a gateway to the community.”

GRCC sophomore Kailey Mason looks through one of her new textbooks for the semester inside the Ford Fieldhouse

The building, first operated by the community college in 1976, has hosted countless athletic events, commencements, circuses and even presidential visits.

Renovations, funded through district savings, also include new fitness equipment in the health club, new lockers and three new classrooms for the school’s exercise science department. The lower-level health club is open to the public for $225 per year.

GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn said the fieldhouse has multifunctional appeal. “It’s a place where they can get excited… we are proud of the facility and want to bring in student athletes from around the state.” The school’s athletic teams include men’s and women’s basketball, women’s softball, men’s golf, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross-country.

Fordhouse decor integrated history with the future

Men’s basketball Coach Dave Glazier said the upgrades make for a “wonderful transformation of an already great facility.” He said it will attract athletes to attend GRCC and play for its teams. “It’s an easy sell,”he said.

In terms of academics, Jodi Gee, exercise science department chair, said space is much more accommodating to learning and activity. The program includes several degrees and partnerships. “I love the community feel. Students can sit and study together and have a conversation,” she said of the entrance area.

Gee said she is also looking forward to the opportunity to teach in spacious classrooms with natural lighting, with easy access to all the fitness equipment they need. “The more active you are, the better you do academically,” she said.

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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