SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Spring Arbor University officially kicked off the construction of its new track and field complex with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, May 12. Approximately 200 faculty, staff, students and community members gathered at the site of what will become the Ralph G. Walker Track & Field Complex.
Those speaking at the event were: SAU President Brent Ellis, senior track and field athlete Sam Comden, former track and field athlete and SAU Trustee Don Walker (’78) and SAU Director of Cross Country / Track & Field Jeremy Smith.
“Today is an exciting opportunity for us,” said President Ellis. “The facility that we are breaking ground on today will be a world-class complex.”
Spring Arbor University received a commitment for a lead gift of $400,000, plus a $200,000 challenge gift for a total of $600,000 from the Martin D. and Mary J. Walker Charitable Foundation to make these upgrades possible. On behalf of the Walker Foundation, Don Walker said “This day is a dream come true for many of us. We’re honored to be able to participate in this as a family. Spring Arbor remains to be a high priority in my life. I’m thankful for a school that honors God in everything that we do, even in athletics.”
The $1.1 million project will see the complete removal of the current track, and in its place, a brand new eight-lane track will be installed with a top-of-the-line, 13mm latex-coated granulated rubber surface. The new track will remain in the same location, but will see its layout flipped.
The interior of the track will feature new long jump, triple jump and pole vault runways and pits. A new high jump apron and javelin runway will reside at the south end of the track, while a new steeplechase water barrier will be positioned at the north end. Another exciting addition to the facility will be the combined hammer- and discus-throwing cage. This will be the first throwing cage on SAU’s Spring Arbor campus, an addition that will greatly benefit the growing number of throwing athletes.
“Thank you to the Walker family, and to the countless other donors, for making this event a reality today as we celebrate the groundbreaking of our new Ralph G. Walker Track & Field Complex,” commented Smith. “My prayer for this new facility is for a daily remembrance to be grateful and thankful for the goodness of God and his people. To be reminded that the generous hearts of God’s people are only a glimpse of the generous love, forgiveness and sacrifice of our Savior.”
The project is slated for completion this fall, which will allow the Cougars to use the new facility upon returning to campus for the 2017-18 academic year. The complex will not be limited to the SAU track teams, but open for students and the entire community to enjoy.
If you would like to learn more about getting involved in this project or have questions, please contact Rhonda Saurbek, assistant vice president for advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.