Great Things Happen When Our Students Lead
The expansion of the HPER Center is exactly what you would expect it to be when UCA students call the shots: impressive, gigantic and breathtaking. The sheer magnitude of the building is awe-inspiring when you first step inside. The building is massive at a total of 115,000 square feet, complete with ample outdoor activity space, modern fixtures, natural textures, pops of color and clean lines. The cavernous open-air ceilings and the plate glass windows let in sunlight, giving the new HPER Center a feeling of vastness and providing a seamless transition between outdoor and indoor spaces.
Just by walking inside, you know this is a place where students, faculty and staff can ensure that their health, fitness and wellness will thrive. The HPER Center illustrates UCA’s commitment to helping its students, faculty and staff find total physical, mental and emotional wellness. Along with the Student Health Center, the Women’s Health Center, the Counseling Center, and many other services that UCA provides, the HPER Center is an important part of the unified, holistic approach to health that UCA is dedicated to bringing to its community.
After extensive renovations and a 43,227-square-foot addition, the HPER Center reopened November 22, 2014, and when the doors parted, students poured inside to see what was new… and they were not disappointed. As they walked through the front door, they saw the impressive weight station encompassing 10,000 square feet stationed to their right, interspersed with shining new weight machines. A six-lane indoor lap pool sparkled in the newly renovated aquatics area, complete with a recreational diving board, poolside climbing wall, water volleyball court and basketball hoops.
Upstairs, the two group exercise classrooms for spinning classes, yoga, dancing and Zumba gleamed. Past the environmentally friendly hydration station, was a larger group exercise room, bathed in purple lights and surrounded by plate glass. The track had been completely revamped, with new surfacing to keep runners and walkers safe and comfortable.
The basketball court was bigger than ever, its new floors shining in the sunlight let in by the newly installed bay windows. Past the basketball courts, students found new racquetball courts next to couches and flat-screen televisions.
Chairs, couches and social areas that include games like ping pong, darts, air hockey and pool are located throughout to give students and visitors a chance to get to know one another, take a break or just take it all in and relax. The HPER Center is about wellness, and part of wellness is socialization.
The new HPER Center not only perpetuates a sense of health and forward movement, but also promotes a sense of wellness and community. The building is even LEED-certified, with its green irrigation practices, occupancy sensors, low impact development construction, and electric car charging station located out front.
How did a project of this magnitude come to be? It all started with the Student Government Association. Robert Rogers, president of the 2010 senior class, proposed a complete renovation as the SGA’s senior class project. During the next five years, everything was put into place and a lot of hard work made the new HPER Center into the magnificent place it is today.
Current SGA President Ashley Ross is very proud of the new recreation center. “It’s not just the space that’s incredible,” she said, “The equipment is new and exciting. We have the best of the best!”
President Tom Courtway agrees. “Students can go to school, go to class, study hard, but they also need physical activity, whether it’s basketball, intramurals, spin class, swimming, weightlifting or yoga. We have all kinds of classes. They need that outlet to keep their bodies and their minds functioning.” The HPER Center offers all of those outlets, and more. Personal training, swimming lessons, gaming areas and outdoor recreational equipment are just some of the amenities offered. President Courtway and his wife Melissa take advantage of the many amenities on a regular basis.
Arian Story, personal trainer and assistant director of the HPER Center, has always held fitness close to her heart. “This has no doubt been and probably will be the biggest project I will have the honor of being a part of. This is a place for our students to come together to enjoy a healthy atmosphere with state-of-the-art facilities, more activities to choose from and innovative programming,” Story said. “I hope the new HPER experience helps to build a more well-rounded campus, a campus that is focused not just on the mind and educational experience, but a campus that is focused on a healthy mind and a healthy body. It is my belief that without our health we have nothing. It is my goal that when students leave here, they not only leave with a diploma in their hand, but with the knowledge of how to lead a well-balanced and healthy existence as they travel through the journey of life.”
Having a recreation center of this significance and capacity means a lot to the students, faculty, staff and UCA community.
“I couldn’t be happier, nor could I be prouder of the student body and what they’ve accomplished,” President Courtway said. “The HPER is a student-driven, student-brainstormed idea that they seized upon because they knew how important it would be to the UCA community. They were responsible enough to lead us there with the board’s help. When I get to be a very, very old man, I will look back on the addition of this facility as one of my proudest moments here at UCA.”