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Opinion

New facility to give University respect

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February 21, 2008

I came to UW-River Falls in August of 2002. The past (almost) six years have gone by quickly and I have relished the opportunity to teach, coach and live in River Falls.

I won’t try to blow smoke at you and say that all has been candy and flowers. Not everything has gone according to the ideal plans I had conjured up in my head.

When I first came out for my interview for the position, there was a chance for anyone who was interested to come and sit in on a Q & A session with me and find out more about me. One of the attendees was a young woman who was to be the women’s swim team captain the next season. Her name was Megan Broskoff and she obviously had a somewhat vested interest in this interview.

As the Q & A went on, Megan sat off to one side and didn’t say a word. She just listened and watched me very closely. Finally, the moderator asked if there were any other questions before we finished up. Megan raised her hand and was called upon. In one of those very recognizable Minnesota accents she asked “What’s a California surf dude wanna coach in Wisconsin for?”

Ok, ok, I’ll get to the point of this article. I’ve used Megan’s question to remind myself why I am here constantly, and here’s why: I came here to coach the UWRF swimming and diving team, teach whatever classes the powers that be feel I should teach and help build something better for the future of this wonderful university. No matter what frustrating circumstances or negative Neds and Nellies I encounter, I keep fighting for those things that I feel will help towards that end.

One of the longest running battles on this campus has been the fight to make a new HHP/athletic/recreation building a reality. People who have been here a heck of a lot longer than me have had their hopes rise and fall on too many occasions and have a very cynical take on the subject because of broken promises and plans.

Now, the promise has come again and it is showing signs of becoming more than words. Money has been earmarked for blueprints, committees are being formed for planning and there is a cautious air of optimism permeating the cold halls of Karges and the old/new Athletics Center in Hagestad.

I have a professional stake in the new building, maybe more so than most.

If the facility goes through as planned, it will include a very nice new aquatic facility. Having spent as much time as I have in the current campus pool, I can say without a word of doubt, “IT IS SORELY NEEDED!”

The HHP/Athletic facilities at UWRF are, hands down, the worst in the conference, and that includes Ramer Field. Aside from the proposed building, there are plans to renovate Ramer, and this is another project that I feel the student body needs to get behind.

When you look at the idea as a whole it truly is something that the entire campus can be proud of.

I hope that I will be here long enough to see this project come to fruition. It’s a shame to see students doing lab work in a hallway and I would very much like to see future students getting their work done in an appropriate setting. Also, it would be nice to have more than five six-foot lanes to coach a team of more than 30 people in.

This past December, the swim team hosted one of the biggest invites in the country at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. I’d much rather do it right here on campus. Stay warm!

Bill Henderson is the head coach of swimming and diving at UWRF and serves as the athletic department’s equipment manager. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and his master’s in physical education from Sacramento State in California.