Sherwood Athletic Center

New Sherwood Athletic Center: Main campus entrance

After 18 months of construction and remodeling, the Sherwood Athletic Center at Whitman College is drawing rave reviews from the campus and local communities.

The $15.5-million renovation, which comes four decades after the building was first constructed at a cost of $1.6 million, upgrades the interior and exterior of the facility and replaces an outdated swimming pool with a much needed multipurpose gymnasium.

Sherwood Renovation Latest
Upgrade in Athletic Facilities

Renovation of Sherwood Athletic Center is the latest in a recent series of improvements to the athletic and recreation facilities at Whitman.

Whitman Athletic Facilities

Baker Ferguson Fitness Center (BFFC), located just across Park Street from Sherwood, opened three years ago at a cost of $10.5 million.

One side of BFFC, a 38,000-square-foot facility, features a sprawling fitness area with the latest in weight-training and cardiovascular equipment. The other side is home to a sparkling 30-meter swimming pool with eight competitive lanes and three practice lanes.

Earlier this decade, in the fall of 2001, the Whitman Athletic Fields were unveiled a few blocks north of campus. The 17-acre complex includes a varsity soccer field, two practice fields (used by soccer teams and several intramural and club sports), and a softball field.

Whitman purchased the site from the city of Walla Walla and made a number of improvements, including installation of underground drainage, irrigation and fertilization systems and lighting for the varsity field.

The Walter Bratton Indoor Tennis Center, located one block from Sherwood, opened in early 1996. The $1.2-million, 28,000-square-foot facility houses four courts, dressing rooms and a balcony where fans can watch matches in progress.

The Whitman campus also has four outdoor tennis courts.

The multipurpose space relieves heavy demands on the existing main gym (used primarily for varsity basketball and volleyball games) and helps meet the physical recreation needs of the entire campus community, including students involved in intramural and club sports, as well as faculty and staff.

Set to open on Friday, Aug. 28, the new Sherwood Center also features a stunning new state-of-the-art indoor climbing wall, new team locker room space for varsity programs, and larger, modernized athletic training room facilities.

An innovative new digital video editing and viewing room, named in memory of former athletic director and baseball coach Max Seachris, also was added. It will use biomechanical software to help train athletes in proper movement mechanics.

By enclosing part of the outdoor courtyard, the renovation project bumped the building’s total floor space to just over 71,000 square feet, an increase of about 6,000 square feet.

Other improvements include an expanded main entrance and new Athletics Hall of Fame foyer. There are new, larger offices for coaches and staff, and a number of energy-efficient components, including skylights, have been added. The exterior renovation has covered the original concrete with red brick

“Completion of the Sherwood Center renovation, following the recent addition of the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center and Paul Harvey Swimming Pool, significantly increases the quality of our campus athletic facilities,” Whitman President George Bridges said.

“Whitman students now have access to remarkable facilities to engage in fitness and conditioning as well as to participate in varsity, club and intramural sports. Students with whom I’ve spoken are enthusiastic about Sherwood Center and the opportunities it offers them and the entire campus.”

Dean Snider, director of athletics, said “advantages of the renovation all point to enhancing the experiences of student-athletes, intramural and club sport participants, coaches and student recruits. I thank members of the Sherwood Trust and all our donors for their generous and visionary support of our efforts and for the role athletics play in the Whitman experience.”

Coaches and staff moved into the building during the last week in July, having worked in temporary campus quarters since construction began.

Stunning: New climbing wall

“The building is magnificent,” Snider said. “Our contractor, Opp and Seibold, and all the workers have done a tremendous job. We appreciate their pursuit of excellence in construction; they have created a masterpiece of a facility that matches our desire for excellence in athletics and recreation.”

Snider is particularly pleased with the Hall of Fame foyer. “It is a beautiful tribute to our alumni athletes, and it makes an excellent first impression in the eyes of recruits and their families.”

Among the many advantages of the renovation, coaches will have space in their offices to meet with prospective student athletes, something that was not possible before. The new training room is much larger and will allow better injury prevention and care. The addition of locker facilities and team-room space has been on top of the student-athlete wish-list for some time.

“This is a very exciting time for our 14 varsity athletic teams,” Snider added. “We have made major improvements to our facilities, we have a very talented mix of veteran coaches and dynamic young coaches, and the W Club, our new alumni booster organization, continues to provide critical moral and financial support. We are moving in the right direction as we pursue a level of excellence in athletics that matches Whitman’s level of excellence in academics.”

The new multipurpose gym, which includes drop-down batting cages and hitting nets for the baseball and golf squads, enables multiple teams to practice concurrently and provides more time and available space for club and intramural programming. Having a second gym also enables Whitman to host tournaments and schedule camps and clinics, which could help draw more student-athlete recruits.

The existing main gym, which can seat close to 2,000 fans for basketball and volleyball games, was also upgraded during the renovation process. The floor was resurfaced and repainted, and the sound system and scoreboards were replaced with higher quality models.

Renovation upgrades stadium court, adds multipurpose gym

The renovated Sherwood retains two classrooms, including one wired for the latest video and audio technology, and triples the number of dance/exercise rooms from one to three.

The building also retains four racquetball and two squash courts (all resurfaced) and a strength-and-conditioning room that is specific to team-wide training for speed, quickness and agility.

The Seachris video room, which will have two computer work stations, large-screen television and a surround-sound audio system, will be used in the opposition scouting process as well as for biomechanical analysis. “This is a remarkable capability for a small college environment,” Snider said. “It’s a very innovative space that will also help with team building and recruiting.”

The new indoor climbing wall, managed through Whitman’s Outdoor Program (OP), is higher and wider than the outdoor facility it replaces, and it offers a much greater variety of routes and climb types. Brien Sheedy, OP director and mountain climber who himself has scaled the Seven Summits, helped design the facility. He rates it as one of the most innovative walls in the nation and believes there is something in it for all levels of climbing and climbing instruction.

For a look back at the original Sherwood Center construction in the late 1960s, please click here

The climbing wall, comprising hundreds of imprint and free-form panels, has a total climbable surface of about 7,000 square feet. The main wall is 104 feet long and 39.24 feet at its highest point. An outer wall of windows allows for natural lighting while providing climbers with protection against ultraviolet sunlight.

New skylights in the roof of the multipurpose gym, along with one large skylight in the center of the building, illuminate those spaces naturally, requiring less energy use. The new brick exterior not only makes the appearance of Sherwood more consistent with other buildings on campus, but it also adds to energy efficiency – layers of insulation were added between the brick façade and the existing concrete walls.