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East County Wednesday, Apr. 7, 2010 7 years ago

ODA breaks ground on fitness center

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Exactly two years after Out-of-Door Academy’s Lakewood Ranch campus broke ground on its now-complete performing arts center, the school has embarked on its next stage of growth — a fitness facility for students and teachers.

“It’s a cornerstone of our wellness initiative,” ODA’s Head of School David Mahler said of the new complex. “We’re really committed as a school to developing the whole child.”

The roughly 3,000-square-foot facility, which will be located directly behind the Petrick Thunderdome, is nearly four times the size of the school’s current weight room and will boast state-of-the art cardiovascular, strength and conditioning equipment.

The facility also will house the school’s first permanent maintenance complex.

Students and faculty rallied at the center’s future site during a special groundbreaking ceremony April 1, at which time Mahler climbed atop an excavator and used the machine to fulfill students chants of “Move that dirt!”

Mahler said the new workout area is essential for students, particularly in light of the expansion of ODA’s athletic programs.

ODA broke ground on its new athletic fields about one year ago. Much of the new facility, which will include a football field, a track and seating when completed, is nearly done. Goal posts for the football field went up March 31.

“As our athletic (program) has grown, we really need a facility where (students) can train and get stronger and faster,” Mahler said.

The project also is in keeping with the wellness program adopted by the school’s board of trustee’s last month. 

Mahler said he expects the $650,000 fitness center to be completed by the end of July if work stays on schedule.

To date, ODA has raised more than $13 million of $15 million needed for its expansion efforts, which include classroom renovations at the Siesta Key campus and a 25,000-square-foot visual performing arts center, athletic fields and an athletic training center at the Lakewood Ranch campus.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the Out-of-Door community and the broader Sarasota community who believe this was a great opportunity,” Mahler said. “These new facilities will benefit the next generation.”

ODA also celebrated its 85th Spirit Day April 1 with festivities following the groundbreaking ceremony.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected]

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