Numerous upgrades are an example of recent growth in athletic department
Sports | Michael Urch
The Robertson Center gymnasium is in the midst of a makeover. New mats have replaced the faded ones underneath each basket, as the first of many upgrades has many people excited about what the finished product will look like.
“It’s long overdue, and the space is what it is,” Athletic Director Bob Bjorklund. “We might as well do as much as we can to enhance the look of it.”
In addition to the new mats, the north and east walls will be painted an off-white color. A large aluminum, 3-D “BU” will be placed on the north wall.
Another impressive addition will be a colorful display of photographs painted on metal substrates with “Bethel Royals” ghosted on the east wall.
The display will feature as many as 19 players from the gym-centric sports of men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball. The concept originally was going to be more of a painting depicting the sports. The idea evolved over time to having photographs.
The artist responsible for designing the changes is Drew Sternal from LA Art. LA Art creates designs primarily for schools and has completed similar projects for schools like the University of Minnesota, St. Thomas, Carleton and Macalester.
“I’m excited to see it happen,” Sternal said. “The benefit will be a huge sense of pride for the athletes.”
Having a gym to be proud of could be excellent for the morale of the basketball and volleyball players who spend much of their time there, and it could be great for recruiting and fundraising too.
“It shows prospective student athletes and alumni that we are trying to create an atmosphere of strong athletics and strong creativity,” said Jared Johnson, sports information director. “We just did the mats and got a ton of positive feedback.”
According to Johnson, the thought process behind the gym began over a year ago. When basketball coach Doug Novak arrived in the fall, he helped move the process along. It seems as though a fresh pair of eyes helped remind the department of the need for an updated gym.
“When I walked into the gym, all I could see was ‘wow, here’s a great opportunity to grow,’” Novak said. Although Novak is new to the Bethel this year, he has played a large role in the process of revamping the gym’s looks.
“When I first walked into that gym, it didn’t look appealing to the eye,” he said. “All of the internal stuff was great, but it just needed a little love to take off.”
The final pieces of this project will be put into place in June, and the total installation should take less than a week. No additional funds were granted to the athletic department in order to fund this project. They worked within their budget and relied on fundraising to cover the costs.
When students return to campus next year, they will have a remodeled gym.