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Thresher Stadium facility gets go-ahead

December 15th, 2021

THresher Stadium

The Bethel board's approval of a major addition to the Thresher Sports Complex begins the public phase of a capital campaign to build a football locker room after nearly four years of “quiet” work by athletics and advancement staff.

The facility will also have features that serve each of the 19 varsity sports in which Bethel competes.

The current locker room, in the basement of Goering Hall on the north side of campus, has been subject to flooding and water damage from groundwater seepage – “three times over the past four years,” said Tony Hoops, athletic director.

It was especially bad in early summer 2019 following a period of heavy rain that left basements flooded all over North Newton.

Even without the constant water problems, the locker room wasn’t anywhere near big enough for the team.

“In fall 2019, we started using the athletics storage shed as a football locker room,” Hoops said. “The coaching staff gutted it and emptied it. We pulled all the lockers out of the existing locker room and the maintenance staff installed air conditioning. It was supposed to be a one-year, temporary solution.

“At the fall 2019 board meeting, we asked for approval for a new locker room. The board gave its approval, although it was mostly for the concept, without details. Everyone said, ‘We need to do something.’”

Over the next year, Hoops continued to crunch numbers and meet with possible donors. In early 2020, Bethel’s advancement office sought funding from several foundations.

The results included a $1 million matching grant for a new softball building (completed in fall 2020) and a new football locker room.

Director of Development Garrett Whorton began working on the quiet phase of a capital campaign for the locker room, and former head football coach Terry Harrison played an important role in meeting with donors and securing pledges, Hoops said.

At this point, there are “sufficient gifts and pledges to begin construction,” said Bethel President Jon C. Gering.

The total will include design costs, building costs, a maintenance endowment and the cost of demolishing the east wing of Goering Hall.

The locker room plans call for building more than 110 football lockers, along with laundry facilities, a team huddle area, two break-out rooms for film viewing and a second-floor game-viewing suite.

McCownGordon Construction of Wichita is the contractor.

“We are grateful for the approximately 59 donors who took the lead on this project,” Gering said. “With $2.13 M in hand or pledged, we are now asking the Thresher community to help us during the public phase of the campaign to raise $400,000 by Oct. 1, 2022.”

To donate to the project, go to www.bethelks.edu/gift

“The locker room has been needed, but the program has always been the focus,” Hoops said. “Our previous coaching staff always recruited to the vision of a program, not to a building. The project is separate, which is why the program has been successful.”

“This building is a much-need addition to our Thresher Stadium complex,” Gering added. “It builds on the success of past years and is a commitment to the promising future of Thresher athletics.”

Said Whorton, “This project represents the dedication of our donors to Bethel College athletics. It will serve our teams well and open avenues of connection to the community.”

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

In sports, Bethel competes in the 13-member Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference and the NAIA. See bethelthreshers.com

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.