August 23, 2017
A recent significant grant from the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, based in Midland, Mich., will thoroughly enhance the day-to-day experience of Albion College student-athletes and coaches for many years to come.
The $500,000 awarded by the Foundation earlier this summer will go toward a complete update of the weight room in the Dow Recreation and Wellness Center as well as a wall-to-wall renovation of four locker rooms serving eight different teams. The grant comes on the heels of a successful five-year College fundraising effort that dramatically improved playing and practice facilities and is already serving as inspiration for additional major support of Briton athletics.
“When our student-athletes graduate, they take with them not only their memories on the field during games, but also the values and lessons of camaraderie and teamwork forged over four years—often in places like the locker room or weight room,” said Athletic Director Matt Arend. “This is a visionary grant that will sustain and expand on the recent momentum generated for Albion athletics, and we are grateful for the Strosacker Foundation’s lead support of this important project.”
Work is slated to begin over the 2017-18 winter break, when the Dow weight room will receive new Olympic-style weightlifting equipment, new high-impact flooring, a new ceiling and fresh wall coverings complete with mirrors and bold Britons athletic branding elements.
Next summer, the Dow’s two football locker rooms—which also support baseball, men’s lacrosse and men’s track and field—will be upgraded, using key input from coaches and student-athletes. Larger and more functional lockers will be installed, as will new flooring and ceilings, fresh wall coverings with a vibrant Albion look and feel, and new bathroom and shower facilities.
A year later, in summer 2019, the Dow locker room spaces for women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse and women’s track and field will receive a similar suite of upgrades.
“The locker rooms are an extension of the playing field, a place where coaches and athletes hone their team skills and strategy,” said Craig Rundle, Albion’s head football coach. “The importance of the locker-room environment can be underestimated, especially over the course of a season or even across a student’s four years. These new facilities will positively impact hundreds of people across Briton athletics every single day.”
Albion is an original member, and the lone continuous member, of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which was founded in 1888 and is America’s oldest athletic conference. The College is also a proud member of NCAA Division III, whose stated focus is “on being a student first” while it “offers participation in a competitive athletic environment that pushes student-athletes to excel on the field and build upon their potential.”
The idea of supporting the daily, behind-the-scenes routines that enable Albion student-athletes to build upon their potential caught the attention of the Strosacker Foundation.
“Albion College was one of my favorite stops in my coaching career,” said Dave Arnold, chairman of the Foundation and whose successful four decades as a football coach at the professional, college and high school levels included five years as an Albion assistant coach, from 1999-2004, under Rundle. “Being part of a team is having friendships, working together and learning leadership skills that will serve our student-athletes for the rest of their lives. The College expected the best from everyone and always put academics ahead of athletics. That is the way it should be everywhere. Division III athletics is truly unique and we are excited to help with Albion’s facilities growth.”
As head coach, Arnold guided Montana State University to the 1984 NCAA Division I-AA national title, and he was an assistant on two University of Miami (Fla.) national championship teams. His son EJ Arnold, a 2003 Albion alumnus, is the assistant head coach at NCAA Division II Northwood University.
Over the last 30 years, the Strosacker Foundation has granted more than $2.5 million to Albion College. Recent funding has been directed toward the Ludington Center, which opened this year at 101 N. Superior St., and the restoration of the President’s Home at 501 E. Michigan Ave.
This latest grant follows the $9.7 million raised by the College from 2011-16 that resulted in upgrades to Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium and the reimagining and reconfiguring of Alumni Field into the brand-new Davis Athletic Complex. And the Strosacker funds are inspiring more philanthropy: the College recently received a separate, anonymous $100,000 gift that is extending the locker-room initiative to Kresge Gymnasium for the volleyball team. The fully renovated space will be ready in time for the season’s first match on September 8.
The entire project seeks to address current and future needs at a time when between 40 and 50 percent of recent incoming classes has consisted of athletic recruits. The plan also follows the arrival this fall of Albion’s largest first-year class since 2005.
“There has been recent pressure on our workout space as we accommodate growing numbers of students,” Arend said. “While it is true that facilities don’t win championships, they do show prospective recruits and current student-athletes the College’s commitment to helping them be the best they can be—in all facets, and in all settings, of their undergraduate experience.”
Additional fundraising is being conducted for the weight-room and locker-room project. To learn more, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 517/629-0446.
The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation of Midland, Michigan, was established in 1957 by the late Charles J. Strosacker, one of the pioneers of The Dow Chemical Company, “to assist and benefit political subdivisions of the State of Michigan, and religious, charitable, benevolent, scientific or educational organizations.”
Albion College is a private liberal arts college located in south central Michigan. Founded in 1835, Albion was the first private college in Michigan to have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The College is best known for its distinctive blend of liberal arts education and pre-professional preparation in business, public service, the sciences, and medicine. Albion College is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association and the Michigan Campus Compact, an organization dedicated to encouraging student volunteerism.