Wessington Springs School students have found that access to the only gymnasium can be tough to find, especially during the winter months. Most school-sanctioned sports teams have to work together and share the gymnasium, creating less opportunities to practice and less time at home for academic studies and family time. The Springs Rec Center offers not only an additional gym floor for sports, but also EXPANDS opportunities for the school music concerts, plays/musicals and indoor recess when South Dakota has subzero temperatures.
A 2018 MSN study showed that adults are not getting enough of the recommended activity exercise, and South Dakota was on the low end of the national scale, with 17.7% of men getting enough of the daily recommended exercise. Sadly, women get even LESS exercise than men. The Springs Rec Center creates opportunities for everyone to access the facility to improve their health and well-being, along with their family members. Whether the weather brings subzero temperatures or excessive heat, you can get moving!
Springs Rec Center can be a great place to host an event either for the whole community, such as the Farm & Home Show, to wedding or family reunion. Springs Rec Center will be a venue for community members to bring larger events to Wessington Springs.
Every successful community needs a facility where students, athletes, and community members can strive to improve their physical condition and take part in recreational activities. There is an endless amount of benefits that a recreation facility has to offer to not only the student athletes, but also the members of the community. When thinking about an alternative option for gym space and usage there is more to think about than just athletics. This would serve and provide a purpose for the members of the community, providing a place for alternative exercise. A lot of community members would love to exercise through some type of sports-league/activity, but don’t have the gym to be able to do so.
Another gym option could also be beneficial in making Wessington Springs more attractive as a community. I have hosted and helped run many sports tournaments including Volleyball and Basketball and these make money for the facility, the people involved, and the sports programs; all while bringing people from out of town, supporting local businesses. This would be easy to do having the option of using multiple courts in a confined, small area such as Wessington Springs. The 2ndgym option could also provide an outlet for kids to come and have a good time after school in a safe, clean environment. This would help keep kids in the community “busy” with numerous different activities and programs.
The gym usage now has an amazing plethora of activities and events that happen throughout the year, providing the opportunity for events such as the Farm and Home Show. With another gym, there are many ways the community would strive! Summer Recreation programs could change astronomically for the kids in Wessington Springs and the surrounding areas.
As I mentioned before, a second gym option would without a doubt be beneficial to athletics. There are so many complaints about early/late practice schedules. A second gym would help eliminate situations like these when everyone would be able to practice after school at one facility or another. There has been a bad stigma since I’ve come to Springs a few years back and the kids have accepted the nature of being mediocre, but it’s hard not to when you can’t even have a full sport-specific practice without some sort of interruption or disturbance from another team having to share court time or space with you.
In order to be decent or good, you have to put TIME in, but if there is not TIME available to do so then how can the student athletes become any better..? Striving to be good at something, whether a sport or not, carries over and will instill in kids the value of striving to be better at everything.
Wessington Springs Community Member, Joey Mitchell
With the addition of a second gym/rec. center from my standpoint as a business owner it means more opportunities to cater and more people coming into the community to help support my business in our small community. There are very few business owners in town who would not disagree we struggle, not from a lack of support, but just from the size of our population. For example I need to generate $30,000 more in net income a year to break even. That means $90,000 in sales. I know that is impossible from our little community but if we can bring in people from the outside with tournaments and competitions that would help. Also being able to cater to a big event which I am currently not able to do because we do not have a big enough facility to hold a big wedding would generate up to $5000.00 in sales in each event. And if I do more things that helps the grocery store cause ¾ of my groceries comes from Springs Food Market. It is all a circle of life. As an example at the last music competition at the school: We normally on a good day have a $600 day during the week. At the last competition we had $1200 in sales by 1:30.
It is also just not me. With tournaments come concession stands which they get supplies from the grocery store. By having more concession stands allows the kids to generate more money for things like prom, after prom, athletic boosters, band boosters etc. thus making those programs stronger.
Owner of Sweet Grass
For many reasons, I believe a second gym would benefit the town of Wessington Springs. A second gymnasium would be a new attraction to the town and a benefit for the community. There are many reasons for a second gym. If the town got a second gym, we could hold more tournaments and host more teams, which would then, bring more income to local businesses. With the gym, we have our sports teams tightly fitting in the gym cramming in practice times. During the spring, we have volleyball, baseball, track, and golf using the gym. When the weather does not cooperate then these sports are forced to practice inside. If we had two gyms, practices would not be so overcrowded.
During the winter, boys and girls basketball have practice. Both teams rotate practice times of right after school (4-6) and after them (6-8). Two gyms would help both basketball teams practice right after school and get home sooner. Coming from a boys’ basketball player, having practice around six has the student athlete getting home later and they still have homework to do. Some practices occur at six in the morning during school days because music setup, girls practice, etc. The athlete has to wake up very early on a school day. If they can get home sooner that would be nice. When school is in session and the weather is not nice, they have recess in the gym. Two gyms would allow classes to still have P.E. while recess is going on in the other gym.
When music concerts and contests are being set up practices still can go on in the other gym not interrupting any certain space. When middle school and high school are practicing, younger programs do not have enough time to practice. Two gyms would allow more space for programs to develop such as elementary grade sports. Many events/activities go on in the gym. Some events that go on in the gym are the farm + home show, craft fair, elementary music contests, concerts, and the science fair. Some towns that have two gyms around us are Miller, Wolsey, Iroquois, Kimball, Mount Vernon, Winner, and Chamberlain.
To conclude this letter, a second gym to Wessington Springs would be a huge benefit to businesses and attract citizens of the town and people from different towns. Adults should push for this because they should want the best for their kids. Their kids would develop not just as athletes but academically around a new gym. This will boost our town because it would add an important building that would be used very much, put to good use, and help athletes of our town better themselves. I will simply end saying the second gym is not wanted, it is a definite need!
Student athlete in favor of a second gym,
I am writing to you with my current experience and hopes to continue utilizing the Wessington Springs District gym and workout facilities and in doing so, promoting continued growth, awareness and need for activity and well being.
For the past four years, I have had a great experience here in Wessington Springs. A big part of that happiness for my day to day routine is being active for my overall health, because it was an important aspect of my life prior to residing in Springs. Coming from a background of athletes and playing college football, it was important for me to find a place where I could do my workouts and be involved and around athletics. I am very fortunate to be allowed by the school and athletic system to utilize and access the current facilities. I don’t say that lightly, as it is a huge stress reliever, great for my well-being, and most importantly gives me the opportunity to interact with the great people from the community; seeing the youth in the area show their love for the sports and activities that they are passionate about. As for me, I love to utilize the gym for basketball, cardio, and even throwing the football around; the weight room for weights and cardio; and the wrestling room for stretching, yoga and jiu jitsu routines. Not to mention all the community activities I have been involved with, from local basketball and volleyball tournaments, to concerts and vendor events. I really am blessed to utilize these facilities to the fullest on a day to day basis.
I have a true love for athletics and know how important, especially in a tight knit community, such as Wessington Springs how vital it can be. I truly believe not only does an athletic facility bring about a great sense of community, but teaches on an individual basis through various events, teamwork, self-discipline, growth, leadership and a sense of purpose.
Over time, I have had a chance to visit and be a part of many rural communities through my family, training, and career. I can say that the rural area of Wessington Springs, being as progressive and passionate a community as it is, really does benefit and grow as a whole from having multiple activities and events with utilization of the recreation buildings and facilities. With that said, I only see further growth and development in this area as a positive investment for the future of the youth, athletics, school events, a most importantly the community as a whole in Wessington Springs. I am so grateful for the opportunity to utilize the recreation facilities and be a part of the wonderful Wessington Springs Community.
I truly believe that the community of Wessington Springs would greatly benefit from having 2 gymnasiums. I know I can’t possibly mention all the advantages and reasons for a second gym, but I will list a few.
We would be able to hold tournaments and more teams, therefore, bring in more revenue for the businesses in our community.
We have multiple practices taking place at the same time. For example, in the Spring, we have track, golf, volleyball and baseball. When there is inclement weather, they have no choice but to practice inside. There is no possible way for them to all practice at the same time. In the winter, boys and girls basketball have to share the gym. So, they have to practice early morning (6am) before going to school for the day and/or alternate practice times right after school (4-6pm) and into the evening (6-8pm). Sometimes, this can turn into a 12 hour day. As a parent and teacher, remember, they are students who also have homework, activities, jobs and other responsibilities after they get home from practice and still have to have supper, which is taking away more family time. There would also be more space for younger programs to develop.
Our fine arts department would also benefit from a second gym. When there are concerts and/or contests to be preparing for and practicing on the risers, etc., they are not able to get the practice times in because the equipment has to be taken down for other activities in the gym that evening or the next morning. That adds to the stress of being ready to perform.
We also use the gym for other events and activities for the community, such as, the Farm & Home show and the craft fair.
There are several surrounding towns that already have 2 gymnasiums and are reaping the benefits.
From a teacher perspective, it is very important for our students to have recess. Again, when the weather is not cooperating, which we all know happens, the students NEED a place to go and get a break from the classrooms! They need and deserve a place to run and play and move around when going outside is not an option.
As I said before, these are only a few reasons I believe we need a second gym and have simply outgrown our current one. We are always looking for ways to improve our community to bring in new families and to plan for the future generations. Please support our community by adding an additional gym.
Cory & Joy Mohling
Right now our school and community have only one gym to utilize in Wessington Springs. I believe this puts our academics, fine arts, and athletic teams at a disadvantage compared to neighboring schools. As the gym is used daily for physical education and practices we are limited in hosting academic events in the gym or they have to be at times that are not ideal. Every February we host a local Science Fair, but they are only allowed to use the gym from 12:00 pm – 3:15 pm. We are limited in the number of assemblies that we can also host. The music programs are very limited in their time to rehearse for concerts as well. For example in preparing for the Holiday Concert in December we do a partial set up on Thursday and then have to take it all down so practices can take place after school. Then on Friday morning we set up for the concert again. The teachers basically have Thursday and Friday of concert to rehearse. The most ideal time for athletic teams to practice is right after school. However, with only gym it forces practices to be held in the evening or early morning. That is just for High School. Elementary teams and Middle School teams have very limited practice schedules. They either have to practice when there are away games or on the weekends. The elementary and middle school teams we compete against are having regular practices 2-3 times a week. Practicing when there are away games is fine, except this does separate families for a night if they have a child playing HS basketball and one playing on a youth team. Saturday practices are OK, except when every Saturday has be used for practices. Families have plans on Saturdays and there is never a Saturday when all the players can be present. If able to practice after school there would be much more consistency to the practices. We are also limited in hosting events. It is very difficult to host varsity VB tournaments or youth basketball tournaments. It is also difficult to host regular JH events or wrestling events because when we host those events it cuts drastically into the practice time for the high school basketball teams. In the Spring after basketball is over is not any better. In March we have had the following teams request practice time in the gym: Track, golf, baseball, 5-6 VB, 7-8 VB, and 7-8 basketball. The youth basketball teams basically had to end their seasons because there was no time to practice. The addition of a 2nd gym for the school to utilize would allow our students quality time in the gym at appropriate times.
HS Principal and Athletic Director
Wessington Springs needs an additional gym.
As I stated previously, as a basketball coach, our program is at a disadvantage in comparison to other teams in the area. The teams we play have two gyms. It allows the programs to have consistent routines and set practice times. Other districts do not have to sacrifice practice times for the sake of other sports, or community activities. It is challenging as program to compete with established teams when we are at an organizational disadvantage, and limited by when and how long we can practice.
In addition, our youth programs are behind developmentally because of the limited opportunities they have to get into the gym. The younger students are not afforded the opportunities to develop fundamental skills needed to compete at the next level because of limitations on gym availability to practice.
A new gym would not only benefit the athletic teams, but the community as well. With the addition of another gym, Wessington Springs could host tournaments that bring people into the community to spend money benefiting local businesses. The community would also be able to have access to more gym space for recreation, musical concerts, fairs and other activities.
In closing, an additional gym would be a worthwhile investment. The facility would not only benefit the school district, but local businesses, and the Wessington Springs area community as well.
As the SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor for the county, I see a definite need for this building. I facilitate educational programs within the school system that equate to approximately 32-40 hours of programming time with the lower elementary youth throughout the year. One of the programs I provide is called “Kid Quest” which is a nutritional and physical activity program. Often times we can only do the nutritional component because there isn’t the space needed to conduct the physical activity part of the lesson or we have to modify the activity level. Being able to utilize the Rec Center for the large activities would be a huge asset. I also do a program called “Gardening in the Classroom”. Quite often we can’t get outside to our garden space in May due to weather. Youth remember and can apply lessons when they are hands on. The Rec Center would allow for many large hands on activities that can’t be done currently. Often times our local 4-H clubs would like to use the gym for events and we simply can’t because it is always being used.
4-H Youth Program Advisor
for Aurora, Buffalo, Jerauld, & Sanborn Counties
Student safety is a priority to me. Adding a new facility will meet some concerns I have, as well as, provide a wellness opportunity for the community. After evaluating the current elementary facility with Ken Bridger, ASBSD Management Specialist, and Steve Puta, South Dakota Homeland Security, limits have to be set on the access to the current weight room and gymnasium. The gymnasium has open access to the elementary facility that can’t be locked down because of fire code restrictions. With an addition facility, any connections to the elementary school can be secured without fire code violations.
With the intense demand to schedule practice with for sporting events with one gymnasium facility, students are driving to and from practice at the most tortuous times during the winter months, either early in the morning or late in the evening. The risk of a wreck happening due to challenging road conditions and lack of day light is a huge concern to me. Should the wellbeing of a student be jeopardized because of the extreme travel conditions, I am the one that makes the announcement. As the Superintendent of Wessington Springs, I prefer not to be put in that situation.
My interest in having a second facility goes beyond athletics. Not only is safety an item of focus, but academics and emotional wellness, too. I want each student home at a decent time at night, as well as, rested in the morning when attending classes. I want the parents to the opportunity to have supper and conversation with students throughout the school year. I would also like community to have the wellness option of utilizing weight room equipment and gymnasium.
Having experienced school districts with more than one gymnasium, I know the opportunities for both students and community members. Completing the Springs Event Center will provide great new options. Support in accomplishing this goal is appreciated.
Dr. Pandi Pittman, Wessington Springs Superintendent
I have been asked to write a letter in regards to the usage of having an auxiliary gymnasium in small schools and communities. I have had the privilege of working in two small class B school districts in my 15 year span in education. I have worked in Onida, SD (Agar-Blunt-Onia School District) and Kimball, SD (Kimball School District) all of which are very similar, if not smaller, when comparing community population and school enrollment. Both these schools have access to two gymnasiums, one which would be a main gym for varsity competition for athletics and large community functions, and one smaller gym for use for multi-purpose use. Access in Agar-Blunt-Onida was plentiful as they had access to 5 gyms in their district and many times all gyms would be in use at the same time.
Having been directly involved in these school districts for my career I have witnessed first-hand how they are used. I know any school that has had access to two gyms can rate the pros much higher than the cons in regards to athletics and the educational function. A few basic pros would be coordinating practice schedules that allow students to practice after school, the ability to host several tournaments which generate income for our community, sports camps, educational events and assemblies, and overall general aesthetics and an advantage of hiring teachers and drawing open enrollment students.
I have been on several hiring committees and have given many “walking tours” of our facilities both in Onida and Kimball for parents, students, and potential employees. There isn’t a tour in which those potential employees or students don’t discuss having access to two gyms for a school of our size.
The multi-purpose auxiliary gyms have also been a benefit to our community members both in Onida and Kimball. We have hosted craft shows, community meals, fundraisers, concerts, plays, and special events. It has been extremely advantageous when a community organization is hosting and event. That organization will set up in one gymnasium and the school will continue our normal educational routine. One example of this would be the annual Midstates Communication meeting. They set up in the main gym and volleyball or grade school basketball continues practice in our auxiliary gym and can resume a normal routine.
In closing, I have witnessed first-hand for 15 years the advantages of having access to two gyms; both educationally and community wise. There isn’t a time before school or afterschool both gyms aren’t in use, whether that be practices (fine arts or athletics), kids shooting basketball or working out, or community members setting up or hosting an event. It also has been helpful for staff morale when coordinating several events at the same time.
Being a proud Wessington Spring High School Alumni I respectfully submit this letter. Small schools in South Dakota are the “face” of the community. I have been lucky to work in two progressive schools and communities and know that Wessington Springs is one of those progressive schools and communities! I would be happy to answer any questions about the usage of our gyms at Levi.Reindl@k12.sd.us.
As a life-long citizen of Wessington Springs, someone who has raised my children here (one daughter who participated in a variety of high school sports/activities and the other who is currently in elementary school) and as the head golf coach, youth cheer coach, fitness instructor and volunteer in other activities in the community, I give 100% support in building the Springs Rec Center.
Our youth, the coaches and townspeople would highly benefit with the additional space in so many ways and it becomes more apparent each passing year. In my experience as the golf coach there are numerous days where we have to move our practices indoors because the weather does not cooperate for us to be outside. When doing this we have to juggle all of the other activities that are in the gym and share the time and space with the other sports (track, soccer, club volleyball, etc.) that are also trying to conduct their practices. The additional space would allow us to use indoor equipment that we currently are not able to because of set up time and the sharing of that space.
In the fall and winter months with the Sparklers, I am holding practices once, if not twice a week. We rarely get any time on the gym floor for practices unless it was on weekends or during random hours when basketball, volleyball or the other school activities were not being held. This brings a huge inconvenience for everyone involved. Also, we have 25+ girls in that program and an open space is needed with high ceilings. We held our practices at a different location from the school so with that comes the trials of coordinating the busing of all of those girls to that other location after school. Additional gym space would be greatly appreciated for the things that we are having to struggle around to keep that program going.
I teach cardio classes multiple months out of the year and we need a larger space to do that. If we want to keep striving as a community and be able to offer a variety of wellness programs or events in the community like that then we need the space to do it. The additional space could be utilized for so many things along those lines too.
In conclusion and in my opinion this additional gym space could be used for so many things; a variety of sporting events and tournaments, practices, community events, school activities, plays, concerts, art shows – the options are limitless! Our children and the townspeople of Wessington Springs deserve and need it! I can only view this as being a hugely positive thing for our community and future!