For the past two decades student athletes have been dripping their sweat and tears onto the floor of the Bultman center. But as of today athletes will be spending most of their time in the newly dedicated Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse.
Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse is named after Ron Juffer, a professor who served 47 years as a professor in the education department as well as 17 years as Northwestern’s baseball coach.
“‘Mr. Northwestern’ is what I call Ron,” said Athletic Director Earl Woudstra. “The Juffers are ordinary people who live ordinary lives, but have given a lot of their time and resources to Northwestern. It is a fitting honor.”
In his time as the baseball coach, he lead the team into five conference championships. He is ranked second all-time in career wins.
“Ron is known for his uncanny ability to remember the name of nearly every student he meets,” said Allison Fredin, athletic facilities director. “Ron and Peg have always been great supporters of the college and all of its students.”
Ron isn’t the only one in this power couple. His wife Peg also served as a professor in the education department at NW. She was an elementary school librarian who supervised student teachers during her time at NW.
“They have a long history of reaching out to students and just being such strong supporters of the college,” Jay Wielenga, vice president for advancement, said of the couple.
Their support is the very reason the building is named after them, as it will continue to support student athletes.
The 33,000 square foot facility is home to a large multipurpose turf area for team practices, an athletic performance center for athletic conditioning and strength training and a gold practice room. The complex will also house a place for baseball, softball, and golf to practice indoors even in the winter.
“This complex has been in the works for years. The RSC was great, but it had its limitations. So thankfully through the grace and generosity of many people this idea has become a reality” said baseball coach Christopher Lewis. Some of the limitations of the RSC were lack of space, so students were crowded. It also lacked year-round practice room for specific sports.
“Everything in the building will benefit the team,” Lewis said. “The main turf area is something we will utilize just about every day will be a huge blessing. Also the weight room is second to none.”
The largest part of the building, the 20,000-square-foot Dave and Anita Bomgaars Family Field, is covered in FieldTurf and marked with a 40-yard football field, an indoor soccer field and foul lines for baseball and softball. It is enclosed with netting for baseball and softball hitting and fielding, as well as being equipped with pitching mounds, backstops and batting cages.
“I’m looking forward to using Juffer Field house because it will allow JV and Varsity to practice together which has never happened before in my four years here,” said softball player Laura Hurley.
Along with the benefits to the baseball and softball teams, the Juffer Field house will greatly improve the golf teams’ season. With the new facility, the golf team will be able to start their warm up season earlier instead of coming back to campus during spring break.
“The team will have the opportunity to get better in a time when they would usually get worse,” said golf coach Aaron Aberson.
The golf practice room will be available to the public at designated times as an extension of their DeWitt Fitness Center membership or through daily use fees. The Bomgaars Field will also be open to the campus community and fitness center members at designated times.
This $3.3 million project broke ground in September 2014. Ron Juffer will be cutting the opening ribbon today at the dedication.