Dedication of the Murphy Recreation Center | Benedictine College

Dedicating “The Murph”

New Murphy Recreation Center is Officially Dedicated and Blessed

Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The new student recreation center at Benedictine College received a blessing and its official name during Family Weekend 2016. The Mike and Theresa Murphy Family Recreation Center, or “The Murph,” was christened in a ceremony on October 1. Donors, students, faculty and staff all attended the dedication for a facility that many say has changed the attitude toward health and fitness on campus.

“Until a group of visionary people came along, we were a school of 1,900 students that had 5 treadmills and 6 elliptical machines. We were lagging behind other schools and not providing adequate facilities for our incredible student body,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “Our vision is to move ‘Forward, Always Forward, Everywhere Forward’ to build one of the great Catholic colleges in America.  So it was important to us to move forward with the building of a new student recreation center.”

Minnis explained the difficult situation logistically and noted all the moves that had to take place to begin construction. He said the baseball and softball facilities as well as the soccer practice field had to find new locations. Many people stepped up to make these moves happen, with the Soccer Boosters raising funds to turf the soccer field, the Asher Family donating land north of Wilcox stadium for the baseball and softball stadiums, Michael and Marlys Haverty giving the money to build Olsen Stadium for the baseball team, and Dave and Sherri Laughlin donating the funds for the turf infield. Then the money had to be raised for the recreation center.

A number of people donated to the project, with Mike and Theresa Murphy providing the naming donation. The Murphys were both athletes while attending Benedictine College in the 1980s, Theresa as a basketball player and Mike on the football team. They strongly believed in the benefits of physical fitness for the student body and knew a recreation center was vital for the well-being and general success of the college as well. They were happy to provide a leading gift for the facility. Mike joked that things had changed a lot since he and his wife were on campus.

“In 1982, a stair-stepper was a person walking up the Raven Walk and aerobic exercise was a brisk walk to the suites,” he said. “What has not changed is the commitment to the vision of the college; community, faith and scholarship. This mission drove the design, implementation and realization of the recreation center. Supported by former students and friends of the college for the benefit of current students, faculty and staff, the recreation center is symbolic of the partnership and sense of community that is core to the mission of the college. Our family is humbled and honored to be part of such an amazing institution.”

Dolly Duffy and Dan Fangman also made a donation, honoring Dan’s father, Elmer, who served as Dean of Students for 30 years, and his late mother, Anne. The central lobby of the recreation center will now be known as the Fangman Family Atrium.

Other donors to the project include: Jack and Kathy Newman; Emmett and Mary Jo Tangeman; Larry and Linda Kaminsky; Chuck and Marti Raplinger; Ray and Mary Jo Becker; Kevin & Lori Rauber; Stephen and Amy Minnis; Larry and Tresa Buessing; Tom and Joan Metzger; Mike and Sandy Rieker; and Doc and Doreen Donovan.

The blessing was conducted by Abbot James Albers, OSB, of St. Benedict's Abbey, and Sister Anne Shepard, OSB, prioress at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. 

The facility opened on April 2 and has been known as the Student Recreation Center until now. The 42,000 square foot facility features a hanging track and a turfed field along with two full sized basketball courts, two multipurpose rooms for aerobics, Zumba and spinning classes, and a spacious cardio/weight room with 38 workout machines, plus locker rooms, a healthy snack bar, study area and offices. The recreation center is open to Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and others affiliated with the college. A Benedictine College ID is required for entry.

The facility was designed to fit in with the older buildings on campus, so Gothic arches, dormers, and a brick and limestone façade are all included. During the design period, the college met with representatives of other colleges to learn more about how students are using existing recreation centers. That information was blended into the mission of the college to create the new building.

“We found that rec centers frequently became study areas as students congregate before or after exercising,” said Minnis. “Therefore, we have put in a warmer, carpeted area with study tables to facilitate studying.”

“Benedictine College’s mission is focused on community, faith and scholarship, and this building will be no different,” he added. “The building includes community areas; a crucifix will be placed above the door as a reminder of faith, and the study area is representative of scholarship.”

The gym area features 12 hoops to accommodate two full-sized courts or four half-court for intramurals. The gyms also have fixtures for volleyball and tennis nets. The Terra Flex flooring is durable and does not need to be covered for special events, which makes the facility useful for dances and banquets as well.

Beside the gym floors is a complete indoor turfed field. This can be used for intramural soccer games, lacrosse, flickerball, and other traditionally “outdoor” games. The turfed field also has three netted batting cages that can be lowered down onto the surface.

Above the gyms and turfed field is a 1/10th mile, three-lane track. In addition to being elevated above the gym area, the track actually goes out over an exterior walkway and offers views of the campus. The surface is rubberized and specially designed for running.

The entire gym is surrounded by insulated, corrugated walls to reduce sounds and echoing inside the facility.

The large cardio/weight room features state-of-the art equipment, including 8 treadmills, 6 ellipticals, 4 stationary bikes and 2 stair steppers. The Life Fitness Signature Series machines feature Life Fitness QR Scan codes to watch instructional videos and track strength training. The elliptical machines and treadmills offer individual screens with touchscreen operations to select interactive running experiences from around the world.

The area also includes 14 Nautilus benches, 3 free-weight cages and 2 rowing machines. Many of these machines also feature QR scan codes to watch a demonstration video on your smart phone. Weight training equipment includes a Seated Chest Press, Inner Thigh, Vertical Butterfly, Outer Thigh, Shoulder Press, Calf Raise, Lateral Pulldown, Leg Press, Bicep Curl, Smith Machine, Tricep Extension, Flat Incline Bench, Rotary Torso, Crossover Cable Station, Abdominal Crunch, Horizontal Leg Curl and Leg Extension.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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