Donation-led effort overhauling LHS weight room

Donation-led effort overhauling LHS weight room
Posted on 06/22/2018

Just call Lynden High School’s current weight room setup Muscle Beach North. As the LHS weigh room undergoes a donation-led upgrade, the equipment has moved outside. “The kids love it,” says Blake VanDalen, head football coach and lead weight training instructor. “Half of them call it Muscle Beach and the other half call it the prison yard.”

While moving the equipment outside was certainly a hefty challenge, it doesn’t match the effort of the reason it was all moved: a fundraising effort to upgrade the weight room.

VanDalen, who took over head football coaching duties a year ago following the passing of legendary coach Curt Kramme, also went from teaching math and science to physical education and, most recently, largely weight training.

“You could tell that within three to five years the weight room was going to be in a not very good place,” he says. “In 1993 when they put it in, no weight room (in the region) was that big or that nice. It was elite. I can see why nothing changed for quite a long period of time. But it was one of those things where you stop and look around and the newest piece of equipment is 25 years old and there is no plan to upgrade.” 

So VanDalen took it upon himself to make something happen. With the blessing of district officials, VanDalen started a fundraising effort to modernize the weight room. Having already passed the $100,000 mark of the needed $200,000 when the school year ended, “it was the perfect time to get something done.”

Not only are crews redoing the guts of the weight room with a new floor and fresh paint job, VanDalen was able to place the largest of the equipment orders, everything that needed to get fabricated at one time. All donations received by the nonprofit Green and Gold Football Club, which supports LHS football, allows for a tax-deductible donation.

Moving forward, LHS can add additional pieces of equipment as money comes in. Eight of the new Sorinex Exercise Equipment racks will get sponsored by companies or families and all the new equipment in this initial phase of upgrades should be in place in August. 

“The cool part is that to the naked eye it will look and feel like a brand-new weight room,” VanDalen says. “I think if someone came in not knowing what was in there before they will think it is entirely new.”

With about half the weight training class slots now taken up by females, VanDalen says that not only will the upgrade include new equipment, but also a new style. The old scheme required students to rotate through stations, but now with multi-use equipment, students can do an entire workout at one station. That allows LHS to place up to 40 students in a weight training class, which currently maxes out at 32 students.

Also new to the weight room is a top-10 record board for females to go along with the male board. “I took all of Kramme’s 25 years of weight training results and now there is a top-10 list for the girls,” VanDalen says. “They are breaking records like crazy because they didn’t know before there was a record to be broken.”

Not only will football athletes enjoy the upgrade, but VanDalen says this is an upgrade that better serves all the non-football athletes and students at the school. “Our weight room was really designed for football, but now you can be a freshman swimmer, track athlete or tennis player or a senior preparing for Division I football and can get whatever workout you need to maximize your situation,” he says. “We are upgrading it for all students.”

“We want every kid to have an individual workout,” VanDalen says. “It will be a new world for the students.”