Originally published Jan. 2, 2022 in the Brainerd Dispatch.

By Conrad Engstrom

In only a year’s time, Brainerd High School is getting a new weight room.

Opening after the New Year on Jan. 5 through funding of around $320,000, the new weight room was made possible.

Warriors head football coach Jason Freed was a big advocate for the new facility around December of 2020.

“We started looking at the weight room and realizing it was 26-plus years old,” Freed said. “And much of the equipment was the same age if not older.”

At first, Freed along with former activities director Charlie Campbell looked at refurbishing the weight room. Then, the idea of renovating and overhauling the weight room began.

“We started looking for bids and working with companies,” Freed said. “We came across Dynamic Fitness and decided to work with them. They were great with getting us renderings and once we got the renderings of what it could look like and I think we all realized that this could be an awesome vision to have.”

Next, Freed recruited the Brainerd Sports Boosters to help fund the project. In the spring, Freed said wishful thinking turned reality when a committee was formed to partner with the boosters.

“That was a big step to get them to jump on board with us,” Freed said.

In May, the committee found donors and raised the $320,000 necessary to build a new weight room. Then in September, they put the order in to start laying the groundwork.

“To be able to have community organizations, businesses, alumni, I mean we had some really big people step up to the plate and help with that,” Freed said. “I think the biggest thing was to be able to sit down and show and talk about the history of the weight room. The history of the Brainerd weight room has a rich tradition with people like Steve Nunnink, Chet Stevenson, Scott Parsons and many others. I think this space played a big role in a lot of people’s high school career whether it was sports or high school academics.”

Current activities director Jack Freeman said the new weight room is going to be a huge asset for all the activities programs.

“There’s an incredible tradition in our strength program,” Freeman said. “Many people deserve credit for that tradition, and this is really going to add to it.”

Nunnick was a big part of the tradition as the strength coach at Brainerd for many years. He recently passed away in December.

“They used the phrase ‘the common thread’ and what that means is that it’s the foundation for everything and everyone,” Freed said. “I think we go back to that and it’s important for kids to understand the tradition of that room.”

Aron Anderson of the physical education department at Brainerd High School also played a role in getting the weight room built not only for activities and sports, but also for academics.

“That was a big thing,” Freed said. “You look at that space and the current space gets used by easily two-thirds of our student population. So working hand-and-hand with the physical education department and Aron Anderson, Ellen Fussy, Mike Boran, Mikkey White and Jolene Owen in coming up with a collective vision that can work with physical education, but also work with our student-athletes.”

Freeman added: “I think it’s going to be a huge asset for the physical education department. They are going to be able to put more classes in there and be able to utilize it and be more efficient with more space. Aron Anderson really helped get that space emptied and ready for the remodel. I don’t know where we would be without all he’s put in as well.”

A bigger weight room provides an opportunity for multiple sports and multiple training sessions to go on at the same time.

“I think it’s huge for all our sports teams,” Freed said. “When it’s done it’s going to be one of the nicest weight rooms in the state of Minnesota. What’s exciting for me is not just the culture piece, but I think we are going to generate a lot more excitement with this place and having a place that is functional.”

Freed said there can be up to over 100 student-athletes in the weight room at a time with the renovation.

“Everyone is going to have the space and the opportunity to train without having to sit and wait,” he said.

Freeman gave a lot of credit to Freed for making the new weight room happen.

“That’s been really fun for me to see,” Freeman said. “When I came in, the ball was already rolling on this project and I just got to see Jason in action with this. Our sports booster group was really active in this and just our community. They have been very generous and believe in this project. It’s a huge credit to Jason in the amount of time he’s put in and the amount of money he’s put in. There’s a lot of thank yous to go around.”

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    New weight room opens at Brainerd High School
    School opens new weight room that will give more students the chance to focus on fitness without waiting.
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