With high school football season drawing near, it’s only fitting that Eric Myklebust utilize a piece of that sport’s parlance to describe what’s occurring on the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) critical fundraising front.

A group of Islanders are engaged in putting their shoulders behind a project that will greatly benefit the helmeted gridiron warriors and all other athletes within the MIHS and school district realm.

That endeavor is targeted at a 106-by-48-foot section of the MIHS campus that abuts the gymnasium’s basketball courts. For years, the area has been termed the weight room/ wrestling room/physical education space, but now it’s being re-branded as the fitness center.

A community-wide fundraising effort is aimed at enhancing the center, which the spearheading trio of Myklebust, Scott Rockfeld and Amy Posner Wolff — all of whom have children involved in athletics at MIHS — said is in dire need of renovation.

Myklebust, who serves as the president of the Mercer Island Football Booster Club, said he’s driven to help direct the project because he wants to give his community and its athletes an immense boost.

“My thought was how can we better everyone in the community from the little kids who are running around on the playfields, to the high school athletes, to the non-traditional athletes, the kids who just want to work out and get in shape,” said Myklebust, adding that the center can benefit MIHS staff members who wish to work out as well.

Mercer Island’s Freedman family — owners of The Fitness Outlet — has leapt into a partnership with the project-leading football program that has garnered support from the track and field, baseball, basketball and wrestling programs and the school district along with its athletic department.

Of the $250,000 needed to renovate the center, $80,000 has been raised through the sports teams and community, and $100,000 from a portion of the capital and technology levy went toward the installation of new floors in the center. They have $70,000 left to raise, with hopes of securing that amount by the end of September in order to install new equipment during winter break and open the center anew by early January.

The Freedmans, who also have kids within the school district, have played an integral role by providing the new equipment at a super discounted price.

Avi Freedman said that it’s meaningful for them to contribute to the redesign of the space into an all-inclusive fitness center, which will feature 10 racks of new rubberized weights, four pieces of people-powered cardio equipment and more. Like at present, the space will include a removable wall between the weight and wrestling areas while the grapplers are powering through their season.

“As engaged members of our tight-knit community, we recognize the importance of creating an environment that embraces everyone,” Avi said. “By revitalizing the fitness room into a modern area accessible to all students, regardless of their fitness level or sports interests, we believe we’ve played a role in enhancing the well-being of present and future MIHS students.”

Rockfeld said the users that come from all MIHS sports teams will be proud to call it their fitness center.

“Ultimately, it’s an investment in the future of our Island and the health of our community,” he said.

MIHS rising senior and football captain Luke Myklebust echoed Rockfeld’s sentiments and said that the current fitness center is run-down and unmotivating, unlike other spaces he’s seen at KingCo high schools.

“I can’t wait to get in there when it’s all done,” he said.

Posner Wolff, who has coached MIHS track and field for 22 years, said they have adopted the inspirational “Field of Dreams” motto of “build it and they will come” when tackling this massive and energetic team project, which is also intended to keep users performing their fitness and agility training in an Island setting.

“We’re very fortunate that we have an administration that is behind this and supporting us,” she said, adding that many of those individuals have robust athletic backgrounds. “This space is going to be so much more welcoming. We foresee more fitness classes, PE classes being offered. It’s really about making the school space just way more inviting for everybody.”

MIHS athletic director Lindsey Blaine said the revamped, all-encompassing strength and conditioning facility will be an invaluable educational resource for everyone who steps through the doors.

“Providing a healthy and conducive environment will facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and skills related to fitness, fostering a holistic approach to learning for all,” she said.

For more information, visit https://mihsfitnesscenter.org/

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