Always Improving: Weight Room Gets Another Upgrade


Brigid J. Ripley

Kevin Kavajecz, Willard Ogren & Ryan Tiberg in the newly renovated weight room at South Shore.

Myla Lahti, Director of Social Media

South Shore has always had a weight room since it was built in the 1970’s. In 2013 to the tune of roughly $21,000, it was upgraded with new equipment and arranged by professional trainers out of UMD. Fast forward four years and countless hours of use and the weight room was in definite need of some TLC. Willard Ogren and the South Shore Education Foundation teamed up again to meet the demands for upgrading the space with new equipment and organization, by drumming up an additional $10,000.

The initial upgrade was completed by the South Shore Education Foundation (SSEF) and matched by Willard Ogren, a 1951 graduate of South Shore. It is no surprise that with a senior quote that reads “Born to be a star on the basketball floor,” and a basketball athlete for his entire high school career that he would be so generous in his support to help other athletes improve in the offseason by making sure they had access to the latest equipment and well planned space.

The newly redesigned and equipped weight room is very much appreciated and utilized not only by the current students but community members and alumni. Alyssa Kavajecz, a record-setting track athlete and 2016 graduate of South Shore, and who now attends UMD considers herself lucky to have access to quality space and equipment. “I am fortunate to be able to use the athletic center for weight lifting, plyometrics and cardio workouts.  While in high school, I used the athletic center to get stronger for all the sports in which I participated.  Now, when I am home on breaks from college, I am able to keep up with my workouts for UMD track in the athletic center free of charge and close to home.” Megan Gustafson, a 2015 graduate, and Division 1 athlete takes her training seriously and can’t imagine not having the weight room. One would, in fact, say having access to the weight room makes coming home to a small rural town less daunting because viable training space is right in her backyard. “I would say that South Shore’s weight room facilities have been extremely helpful to me in my years here at Iowa. Since I am a division 1 athlete, I need a place to continue my rigorous training even when I am on a break. It is very essential for me to stay in top shape at all times, because I am training all year long, and this weight room allows me to do that. There are a variety of options, from main lifting, to accessories, to running machines. I honestly can’t imagine being the athlete I am today without having the access that I have had with South Shore’s weight room. I have used this weight room every time I have come home, and will continue to do so. I also know that former students have continued to use this weight room as well, and many times I have weight lifted with some of them after my time in high school (e.g with Janice Anderson and Alyssa Kavajecz).”

The weight room is not just for athletes but it can also be used as a family function.  The Knaack family has recently been in the weight room using the equipment continuously. “My family and I have been using the weight room for several weeks now after the renovation. Matthew and I try to use the weight room right after school Monday through Friday. Jill tries to use it 2-3 days a week and Natalie just started last week. The weight room is a great facility with a good selection of quality equipment. The equipment is accessible and well organized. Since the weight room has been opened to the community it has given my family an opportunity to improve our health and spend time together. The Knaack family thanks South Shore for allowing access to a great facility.”

In addition to alumni and community members, the weight room is utilized by students throughout the day. South Shore offers the traditional physical education classes for students who are looking for additional phy ed learning they can take personal fitness, which incorporates proper techniques, etiquette, and the importance of incorporating weight lifting into regular cardio routines. The weight room has of course weight but also has cardio equipment which includes two treadmills, an elliptical, and a stationary bike. Junior Nathan Kavajecz prefers the bench press and is happy that he has the opportunity to “stay fit, stay strong and [have] fun,” in a modern well-equipped athletic space.

It has been said before that South Shore is small but the loyalty and commitment by the community and alumni makes South Shore stand out. Willard Ogren personally donated just under $15,500 while the Education Foundation supplied the same amount of funds to give our athletes access to top tier equipment and help keep community members stay fit. Truly South Shore is very fortunate and thankful for the generosity and support.