Listen to Leonard Center Dedication
Amanda Cagan '10
Amanda Cagan ’10, who serves on the Student Athlete Advisory Council, was one of two students to speak at the dedication ceremony for the Leonard Center on October 11, 2008. A member of the Class of 1959 in attendance requested a recording of her address be posted here for classmates to enjoy.
It seems like only yesterday my freshman year began, and with it, the destruction of the field house. We were all huddled at the window during Spanish class watching the wrecking ball annihilate the old field house. I knew little of the late “Shaw Field,” but, beloved as it was by many softball programs prior, the new facility promised to be well worth the wait and sacrifice. And sacrifice it was: horrible memories of teams waking up before sunrise to practice at an off-site location. I will forever have images of our softball coach, Tom Cross, at five o’clock in the morning, digging out the frozen-shut door of the Concordia St. Paul Pole Barn, just so we could get some extra batting and pitching into our practice schedule. Dedication and cooperation brought the Macalester community together in the trying times that accompanied the development of the new fitness center.
The construction of the Leonard Center unified the community at Macalester and catalyzed a togetherness that is representative of what seems to be a changing Macalester community. Support was found in every portion of the community; fans traveled from near and far to support our athletic programs, programs that were suffering through multiple seasons without a home field, and athletes and non-athletes alike endured a year of training in the sweaty, dank gym at the IHM church without complaint. Needless to say, patience and perseverance were rewarded.
The first time I stepped into the Leonard Center, I knew that the face of the Macalester community, and I mean the entire Macalester community, not just the community of athletes, had changed. You can see it clearly on the faces of all those who enter the building. The first day the center opened, there was endless talk of how incredible the building is; visitor’s faces were filled with awe. It is amazing to me that what seems only a simple architectural construct, can be so inspiring and unifying.
Every time a visiting team enters the building, I swell with pride when I hear their envious voices ask in wonderment about the nature of the facility and what it contains. The only answer fit for their wondering questions is: everything. The Leonard Center is a dream come true. For wellness, fitness, nutrition and even building social connections, it is a part of what I am beginning to call “the new Macalester.” While still holding on to our old and important traditions, Macalester is experiencing a reawakening.
The physical well being of the student body, and even the surrounding community, has become an emphasis. It is a time of growth, bonding and teamwork; ideals of the athletic department being shared with and accepted by the greater Macalester community. It is representative of those fundamental concepts that we hold so dear here at Mac. The Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni are all key members of the Macalester character that continues to instill a sense of wonder and creativity and a quest for education, cooperation, diversity and growth for all who step foot on our campus. There is a twinkle in every eye that enters the building. The Leonard Center is a place where every fundamental concept that we pride ourselves on here at Mac can be capitalized upon under the guise of fitness and general wellbeing.
I feel like I have grown up with this building. From the first wrecking ball to the final brick, I have seen the progression from dirt to artistry. It is here now and will be here for the benefit of future generations, continuing to share the ideals of the thoughtful and well-rounded citizens that are being produced by this institution. The Leonard Center features and supports the excellence that we strive to obtain here at Macalester. It is a fresh, new addition to our already vibrant community.
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