Athletics renews focus on participation at rec center
By Tim Rath
When students, staff and faculty return to the Alan J. Stone Center for Recreation in the fall, the center’s staff hope they will notice a number of changes to the facility — not only cosmetic, but cultural, as well.
Alma College welcomed its new assistant athletic director for recreation and facilities, Brad Barlog, in April. Since beginning at the college, Barlog has focused on bringing more people into the recreation center as much as making it a better place to work out.
“Since I’ve started here, met people and talked to them, a lot of what I’ve been hearing has been that we have a good facility to offer, but not enough people using it,” Barlog said. “I’d like to change that.”
Barlog said the Stone Center had its own social media accounts on popular platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but staff had not updated them in several years. So, he set about becoming a more active, creative voice online.
Together with other staffers in the athletics department, they organized the first annual Alma College Virtual 5K — an online-only, interactive run designed to get participants moving, despite restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A promotional video that was published online, starring President Jeff Abernathy in a variety of humorous physical situations, was a big milestone in Barlog’s short time at Alma so far, he said.
“I knew we had tremendous support from the campus community, because I can see the numbers and read their comments. But to know the president is strongly on board with what we want to do as well, and is even willing to put in the time and effort to promote it himself, was really cool to see,” Barlog said.
Barlog hopes that if more students, staff and faculty are at the Stone Center when it opens up again, they will be pleased with what they see. The college is making a number of upgrades to the facility, including new flooring, wall graphics, equipment and other improvements.
New amenities are also being installed to improve workout routines for physically- and developmentally-disabled participants. Due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, cleaning procedures are being overhauled, as well.
Barlog believes the rec center is a “big asset” to the college and local community and he’s pleased at the prospect of more people using it.
“We’re striving to get people into the rec center — not just to get a workout, but to participate in activities, classes and sports. It’s just creating another avenue to build community here at Alma College,” he said.