Fern and John Liechty Fitness Center dedicated at Trinity Bible CollegeELLENDALE, N.D. — With one hand for himself and his other representing his late wife Fern, Jon Liechty cut a ribbon and opened a fitness center bearing his and Fern’s name.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
ELLENDALE, N.D. — With one hand for himself and his other representing his late wife Fern, Jon Liechty cut a ribbon and opened a fitness center bearing his and Fern’s name.
Staff, students, community members and donors were here at Trinity Bible College Monday evening for the dedication of the newly completed Fern and Jon Liechty Fitness Center.
Jon donated about half of the $1 million cost for the 7,400 square-foot facility, which triples the space the college previously used for athletic team workouts.
“I feel like we got a state-of-the-art facility that might rival any institution in America,” said Dustin Morgan, Trinity athletic director and head football coach. “The size might not rival your D1 facilities but the equipment is state of the art.”
The new weight room facility was only part of the project. Tiles were replaced throughout the field house facility, locker rooms were redone, an office was built, walls were painted and a new basketball court was installed.
“The rest of this facility as you can see is absolutely beautiful,” Morgan said.
Sam Johnson served as the vision and funding director for the Fern and Jon Liechty Fitness Center. During a dedication speech, he said it was Morgan who brought the need to light.
“It was Dustin Morgan’s vision, it was Dustin Morgan sharing me the places where they used to work out and the locker rooms, and we quickly realized we needed to help if we could,” Johnson said.
The total cost of the project was covered completely by donations from benefactors or sponsorships, like the new basketball court.
The whole project will connect all buildings on campus except the two dorms. Officials at the four-year college said it will serve as a benefit to students and staff in the winter months.
The renovated field house will also serve as a place where students can rally for home sports events, Johnson said.
“The building is vitally important not only as a training center or an athletic complex but as a student center,” he said.
Kristan Faul, student body president, was thankful for those who contributed to the project at the dedication.
“I just want to say thank you very much Jon for your contribution, and it’s not only a contribution to the college but those who use this facility,” Faul said.
Currently Trinity Bible College has about 225 students from 37 states. It has football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and cross country programs.
“I think it’s just one more step in the evolution of our athletic program,” Morgan said, adding that last year was the first year that all teams finished with a winning percentage above .500.
The new facility has more than $120,000 in strength and fitness equipment for use by the teams, the rest of the student body and eventually the community.
Ian O’Brien, student life director, said the college is in the early stages of hiring a management staff for the athletic facility. That staff will then come up with a business plan which includes making the Fern and Jon Liechty Fitness Center available to the public of Ellendale and beyond.
“It’s obviously something that produces a feeling of pride and added warmth,” O’Brien said. “There’s dignity in the heart but it adds dignity to the campus.”
Trinity President Dr. Paul Alexander said he hopes the center can help bring together residents of Ellendale and those at the college.
“We’re very committed to be really constructive members in the community and we think it could potentially bridge the gap,” Alexander said.
Alexander said the new facility will be used by athletes and the rest of the student body. He hopes to include the community in the near future.
“It complements all we do,” he said. “It’s a means to an end, so it’s not completion in itself, it contributes to our athletics program and it contributes to the standing of our college.”
At the ribbon cutting, Jon Liechty said his wife, Fern, was always at his side. So his right hand acted as Fern’s as he held the scissors with both and cut the ribbon before a resounding round of applause.
“This is way beyond me,” Jon said. “But it’s an honor to be here tonight and I thank everyone for the great feelings of honor.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com