With its brick-covered exterior, Sherwood looks like a new building. The new indoor climbing wall’s climbable surface (below) exceeds 7,000 square feet, the largest of any college or university climbing wall in the West.
After 18 months of construction and remodeling, Sherwood Athletic Center reopened to an appreciative Whitman community in September. The $15.5 million renovation upgraded the interior and exterior of the facility and added square footage for fitness areas and offices.
The Board of Trustees envisioned a Sherwood Center that would better serve modern athletic teams, athletes and coaches, as well as the recreational needs of the campus community. They also pictured the existing concrete walls covered in brick, a change that both increased energy efficiency and brought Sherwood into better aesthetic harmony with the rest of the campus.
— President George Bridges
“This renovation is a marvelous work of art and engineering that provides an ideal setting for rock climbers, players of all sports and fans alike,” said President George Bridges. “It is exciting to see the vision realized. The opening of this modernized athletic center — on par with the best NCAA Division III facilities in the nation — reflects a dedication to athletic excellence that mirrors the academic excellence for which the college is already known.”
Trustee John Stanton ’77 and Theresa Gillespie, along with the Aven Foundation, provided the lead gift that made this stunning transformation possible. The college also received significant gifts from several local trusts to support the Sherwood renovation, including a generous gift by the Sherwood Trust in memory of the center’s namesakes Virginia and Don Sherwood ’22, as well as support from the Joseph Stubblefield Trust.
“The Sherwoods were extremely generous to Whitman during their lifetimes,” said John Bogley ’85, vice president for development and college relations. “We are honored that the Sherwood Trust continues to support Whitman in many ways today.”
With completion of the Sherwood renovation, following the recent addition of the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center, “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,” said Bridges. “Students with whom I’ve spoken are enthusiastic about Sherwood Center and the opportunities it offers — and how it positions Whitman.”
Athletics Director Dean Snider said, “The renovation of Sherwood will enhance the student-athlete experience and increase club and intramural opportunities, as well.”
Coaches now have space in their offices to meet with prospects. Gifts from Jerry Hillis ’61 and Diana Gale, Larry Pedegana ’63, and Max ’59 and Maggie Johnson ’58 made possible three of those offices. The Seachris Room features cutting-edge video editing and analysis equipment, allowing coaches and athletes to break down the biomechanics of movement.
“From gait analysis for runners to throwing mechanics for pitchers, this facility will allow coaches to help athletes improve their techniques,” Snider said. The space also includes scouting software so coaches can hone in on specific aspects of their opponents’ individual plays and team strategies. “This is a great facility for presenting a game plan so athletes can quickly grasp and integrate the plan into their game,” he said.
Snider is delighted with the finished Sherwood project, especially the Hall of Fame foyer. “It is a beautiful tribute to our alumni athletes, and it makes an excellent first impression to recruits and their families. All of us at Whitman thank the donors and the board of trustees for their generous and visionary support of this project and the role athletics play in the Whitman experience.”
The revitalized Sherwood Athletic Center received a warm reception at a public open house in September. Among those in attendance were several people who were on hand when the building opened for the first time in 1968. Pictured here in the Hall of Fame foyer are (left to right): Lee Coleman, professor emerita of physical education (facing the group); Lou Perry, president emeritus; George Ball, Weyerhaeuser professor emeritus of biblical literature; and Bob Thomsen, professor emeritus of physical education.
Among improvements to Sherwood Athletic Center:
- Conversion of the former swimming pool combined with the adjacent old “small gym” into a spectacular multipurpose gymnasium
- Addition of team-room space and locker facilities
- Expanded training room
- Addition of a video editing/media room with scouting software
- Addition of batting cages and golf nets
- Remodeled, redesigned Hall of Fame foyer
- Enlarged and increased office space for coaches and staff
- Energy-efficient components, including skylights
- Complete exterior renovation
- Innovative indoor climbing wall to replace the outdoor wall