Waiting on Whiting

Dave Becker

When it was constructed, “Phog” Allen called it “the finest field house in the state,” but it’s not the one that bears his name, and it’s nowhere near the KU campus. Actually, it stands in Topeka overlooking the Washburn campus. It happens to be the Whiting field house and it’s getting a makeover in a big way.

It’s common knowledge to anyone who has been in the Petro Allied Health Center long enough that Washburn’s athletic department has been on a quest to find a new spot for an expanded workout facility.

Originally, the plan was to fill in the pool in Petro’s Garrett Natatorium, but after much petitioning and controversy the plan was scrapped in favor of renovating the gymnasium in the old field house.

The plan calls for a three-level steel-structure to be built with a 9,258 square foot workout facility on the ground level. The upper level mezzanine will house offices, an 80-seat classroom, and two seminar rooms, and the third floor will house basketball and volleyball courts.

David Trupp, Washburn’s strength and conditioning specialist, favored the idea of utilizing Whiting for the construction of the new workout facility.

“With Whiting we’re able to add an additional gym on top of the weight room and utilize space that was previously unused,” Trupp said. “We wouldn’t have been afforded that luxury if the plan to use the pool had been approved. ”

Trupp hinted that the new weight room will house 25 Olympic lift platforms and racks, giving the facility the ability to train 75 athletes at any given time. This was neither feasible nor safe with the previous weight room, which also resided in Whiting.

“Our biggest need was to train as many varsity athletes as possible, and with the new facility things will run more smoothly,” Trupp said. “We won’t have the scheduling conflicts that we once had where more than one team needed to use the facility at the same time and it was crowded and also somewhat dangerous.”

Kerry Dickerson, assistant athletic director, said that more than half of the money for the renovations came from private donations.

“A portion was paid for through fundraising,” Dickerson said. “We had a goal of 3 million.”

And at a total cost of 6.9 million dollars, Dickerson hopes that the building will help boost recruiting at Washburn.

“I think anytime you showcase your facilities it makes people more aware that you’re out there,” Dickerson said. “And when you’re successful, people look at you more closely to see what you have to offer them.”

McPherson Contractors of Topeka started the demolition in the early part of June, and the project is expected to take 18 months to complete.