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Saint Mary’s breaks ground on athletic facility

| Monday, April 18, 2016

The groundbreaking of the new Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex on Friday strengthened the comprehensive mission at Saint Mary’s to educate students’ minds, souls and bodies.

President Carol Ann Mooney said she recognizes the universal value of building a new workout facility, so she wanted to begin construction as soon as possible.

“All will have a place here — whether they are practicing for Saturday’s game, squeezing in a workout between classes and dinner or simply looking for a place to gather with friends,” Mooney said. “It was my dream that we would be able to break ground for this facility before my retirement.”

Sarah Belanger Earley, a member of the President’s Circle, said the College initially planned to upgrade the current Angela Athletic Facility, but realized a more dramatic transformation was needed.

“It soon became very clear to us that a different kind of renovation needed to take place,” Earley said. “True to our Holy Cross heritage, we assessed the needs of the time and quickly saw that health and fitness are key priorities for today’s women.”

According to Earley, more than 1,400 donors recognized the College’s need for improvement and contributed to this project.

“This milestone is not the result of isolated board decisions or meetings with architects,” Earley said. “It is the product of the intentional investment of alumnae and friends in the health and wellness of Saint Mary’s students.”

According to Colleen Ryan, a member of the President’s Circle, the Saint Mary’s community should adapt to the evolving needs of its members.

“When the current Angela Athletic Facility was built in the 1970s, women’s interest in physical activity was largely limited to athletic teams, and even those were far different from the teams we have today,” Ryan said. “In the 40 years since its construction, a focus on fitness and wellness has emerged among the students of Saint Mary’s and across the country. This shift has revolutionized the way we think about athletic facilities and emphasize[d] the importance of buildings that serve all students, not just varsity athletes.”

Ryan said she hopes the new resources in the Angela Athletic Wellness Complex will appeal to everyone.

“A tennis player will be able to practice in the field house during the winter,” she said. “A yoga enthusiast will have plenty of space to teach a group of fellow students in a dedicated classroom. … A student who decides to make fitness a part of her life will be able to find an open treadmill after classes.”

Ryan said the building will include counseling services, providing students with easier access to mental health resources that will enhance their college experiences.

“Students will be more aware of the services available to them and have options across a wide variety of offices all in one building,” Ryan said. “The new Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex will create a future that emphasizes comprehensive wellness, establishing healthy habits and patterns in the lives of every student that will last a lifetime.”

Beth Culligan, Board of Trustees member, said she hopes athletes benefit from convenient access to workout materials and training spaces.

“The current facilities really do hold our students and coaches back,” Culligan said. “With this new building, Saint Mary’s will be able to offer student athletes a top-of-the-line experience for both practice and competition.”

This construction calls attention to the importance of balancing fitness and schoolwork, as both teach invaluable lessons, Culligan said.

“For many Saint Mary’s students, athletics are an irreplaceable part of their college experience and a context for growth and learning,” Culligan said. “Membership on a team, as we all know, builds character and collaborative skills while fostering self-motivation and discipline.”

Kathleen Conley Taiclet, class of 1985, said she envisions the Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex as a location for students to form connections and bond over a shared value of health.

“The cafe, full of healthy options, will serve as the perfect location for a student to grab a post-workout smoothie or to take a snack break with her study group,” Taiclet said. “Students can find a spot in one of the numerous lounges to work on a paper or to connect with friends. These spaces will not only enhance and strengthen relationships among the students — they will also help infuse the community with an emphasis on health and wellness.”

Taiclet said she hopes the new facility serves as a support system, since college is often the first time people make independent decisions about nutrition and exercise.

“It is our hope that Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex will become a social and cultural hub on campus where students can learn to incorporate fitness and health into their daily routines,” Taiclet said. “Students will graduate from Saint Mary’s with lifelong friendships and the support they need to pursue health and wellness throughout their lives.”

Sr. Michelle Germanson, Board of Trustees member, said the friendships students form at the Angela Athletic and Wellness Center will promote an atmosphere of acceptance and comfort on campus.

“Connection is why we are here,” Germanson said. “Belonging is what holds Saint Mary’s community together.”

Germanson said the new complex will enable students to embrace healthier and more active lifestyles that will expand the Saint Mary’s community.

“This is a dream that I know is going to affect student life, and I know is going to bring the people all over the place to this home,” Germanson said. “How can they not want to be here?”

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About Martha Reilly

Martha is a senior majoring in English literature and political science. She currently serves as Saint Mary's editor but still values the Oxford comma in everyday use.

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