CINCINNATI — Elder High School, an all-male, college preparatory high school in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Price Hill, will soon have a new 19,000-square-foot fitness center. The 90-year-old school is a diocesan high school within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and hasn’t seen construction on its main campus since the basketball gymnasium, the Memorial Fieldhouse, was finished 38 years ago.
Jeffery Sackenheim, a project manager with SHP Leading Design, which has offices in Ohio and Kentucky, began conceptual design work last year. A series of design exercises, including input from coaches and administration, aid Sackenheim’s conception. SHP is no stranger to designing school athletic centers, however; it oversaw Ohio’s 53,000-square-foot project for Cincinnati’s Hamilton High School athletics program and the 10,000-square-foot Miami University Hayden Baseball Center in Oxford, Ohio.
The notion of creating a new fitness center started four years ago when Kyle Rudolph, an Elder graduate (class of 2008) signed a contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings football team, allowing him the financial bandwidth to explore helping his high school alma mater improve its existing weight room facilities. Rudolph and administrators met and decided to tackle the weight room upgrade, which was needed since the weight room in the Donohoe Center had limited capacity and had not undergone a substantial upgrade since its inception in 2001.
Rudolph has committed his financial support of the project, and the school has likewise secured the additional funding needed to complete Phase I. The school still needs $2 million to complete the project’s Phase II, which includes the center and a parking lot. Over the past three years, $9.5 million in campus and classroom renovations have occurred at Elder High School. Among the improvements are new science labs, the installation of LED lighting and modern windows as well as air conditioning.
The new Panther Fitness Center, named for the school’s mascot, will boast a weight room on its first floor, effectively doubling the present space. It will also have a 6,000-square-foot multipurpose room on its second floor. Among the ancillary benefits of the school’s new facility are greater flexibility when scheduling in-season and out-of-season team activities and additional training space during poor weather. There will also be additional space needed for physical education classes and perhaps even space dedicated to community outreach programs. Moreover, there is the prevailing notion that teamwork will cohere thanks to the sports programs’ (freshman through varsity) ability to train simultaneously.
When funded, Phase II will include repurposing the Donohoe Center (the current location of the weight room, coaches’ office and spirit shop), creating a parking lot, adding storage areas and classroom space and, ultimately, a more than 6,000-square-foot multipurpose room. A changing room/locker room/restroom is also part of the plan, as well as a new coaches office and lobby.
School officials expect construction to be a nine-month process (depending on weather) with plans for completion by summer 2019. Construction is expected to commence in early September.