Most equipment is from 1970s, '80s; push to $100,000 ends Monday
LYNDEN — It’s no secret how successful and consistently competitive the athletic programs are at Lynden High School. Whether on the football field, the volleyball court or the golf course, athletes at LHS bring home state championships and numerous other accolades each school year.
The school’s excellence in prep sports, however, comes in spite of an outdated weight training facility that hasn’t received an upgrade in over 25 years.
As weight work is a staple of any athletic program, head football coach Blake VanDalen decided it was time to reevaluate the condition of the weight room when he took over the football team prior to the start of the 2017-18 season.
While the commitment of LHS student athletes to hit the weight room couldn’t be stronger, VanDalen said, “If you ranked our weight programs as far as equipment goes, out of the teams in our league (the Northwest Conference) I’ll bet we rank near the bottom.”
Much of the equipment you’ll find in the weight room was purchased in the 1970s and 80s, with some of it dating back to the 1950s, according to VanDalen. Kids from visiting schools tend to call the facility “old school.”
So before last football season, VanDalen met with the district school board to inquire about starting his own campaign to raise funds to renovate the weight room. With a recent bond passed for Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle schools, VanDalen knew it would be highly unlikely for another bond to pass and wanted to take things into his own hands.
As efforts to raise $200,000 for the project began, VanDalen said several corporate sponsors came forward with generous donations ranging from $1,000 to some as large as $15,000. The football team also put together a Lift-a-Thon that raised about $8,500.
The campaign — with the help of LHS alum Jeff Roberts, volleyball coach Chris Elsner and a handful of other past athletes at the school — had raised about $97,000 as of Friday, June 1, and needs to the $100,000 mark by Monday, June 11, in order to place the order for the equipment. The hope is to have the revamped facility ready for the 2018-19 school year.
Roberts has created a GoFundMe page to reach out to the community and seek the final funds needed to hit $100,000. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/lhs-weight-room-renovation.
All donations are 100 percent tax deductible through the Green and Gold Football Club, a nonprofit that supports LHS football. Using the nonprofit and donated labor reduced the total cost of the project from nearly $400,000 to $200,000.
The renovation will include new flooring, new paint and eight new racks that provide 16 workout stations and allow 14 users to simultaneously complete individualized workouts. Other equipment includes rowing machines, assault air bikes, cable machines and dumbbells.
All equipment is coming from Sorinex Exercise Equipment, the same company used for Nooksack Valley High School’s weight room rebuild and by many college and NFL teams. The campaign committee says the new equipment will be “state of the art.”
“These kids are working their butts off to be the best they can be, and this is a great opportunity to get this done three or four years earlier than a bond would,” said Roberts, adding that he used the current weight room equipment when he attended LHS back in the early 2000s. “(The current room) definitely doesn’t reflect the condition of our sports programs,” he said.
While the football program is a big beneficiary of the weight room, VanDalen has made it a priority to get other sports involved with the campaign too, especially girls sports programs.
Tt’s estimated that over 400 Lynden High School students train in the weight room annually.
“One of the reasons our athletic programs are as strong as they are is our athletes' commitment to the weight room,” VanDalen said. “It’s time for an upgrade.”