ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Thanks to recent upgrades, the Hillsboro High School weight room now houses some of the most advanced and safely engineered weight-training equipment in the central Kansas area.
With funds provided jointly by Unified School District 410 and the Trojan Booster Club, HHS athletes can now train at a higher level.
“What we were looking for was a way to make our small weight room more efficient for the time we’d use it for,” said Max Heinrich, activities director. “We wanted to add enrollment to our classes that were during the day and one way to do that was to upgrade our weight equipment.
“The other thing is, when we lift in the summer and before and after school, we wanted to make sure that when you came in there you had efficient time and you could spend 45 minutes or an hour and get done with your workout and be on your way.”
Working in consultation with Kory Unruh, physical education and health instructor as well as Hillsboro’s strength and conditioning coach, Heinrich said the time had come to improve the equipment and the athletic programs at HHS in general.
“In my mind, I think our athletic programs just got better, to put it simply,” Heinrich said. “Our kids are motivated again, and they’re excited to use the new equipment.”
Added Unruh: “This equipment purchase was designed for the needs of all our students and their ability to come in and perform the lifts they need to condition themselves for their particular sport. They can do their lifts more efficiently and safely.”
The upgrade is a dream come true, according to Unruh.
“We used to have just two basic benches, two incline benches and two squat racks,” he said. “Now we have six stations that include bench, squat, incline, military, dips and pull ups and each station has it’s own weight rack as well.
“We also have three Olympic-sized clean platforms, along with padded weights, so it’ll be a lot safer for everyone who uses them,” he added. “Before, we didn’t even have clean platforms-just small rubber pads on the floor.”
The equipment was purchased through former Marion resident Bob Leppke, owner of ProMaxima Equipment in Houston, Texas.
“He’s been very generous,” Heinrich said. “When they delivered our equipment, they also donated a $4,000 machine to Tabor College as well as some additional equipment for Marion High School.”
The equipment at HHS was valued at more $10,000, but was purchased for less than $9,000.
“That included them bringing it down and putting it all together,” Unruh said. “So there really wasn’t that much expense to the school district.”
The contribution by the booster club of $4,500 helped make that possible.
“We chose this project because it was presented to us as a need,” said Autumn Chisholm, booster club president. “This project not only benefits our athletes, but every child in high school because every incoming freshman must take one semester of physical education and part of that is spent in the weight room.
“When we do things, we like to benefit all the kids as much as we can,” Chisholm added. “We are an athletic booster club, but at the same time we recognize there are kids who aren’t athletically inclined or don’t have an interest (in sports). But we still like to do things to benefit everyone.”
Heinrich said the booster club’s donation is only one example of the organization’s generosity.
“They paid for most of a $3,500 digital camera that we use to film our games, and they donated $1,000 for a hitting wall at the tennis courts as well,” he said.
“We really appreciate the booster club and its executive board-they’ve done a lot for us.”
Unruh said the weight room also sports a new stereo sound system, donated by the Alco store in Hillsboro.
“That was totally unexpected,” Unruh said. “But we really appreciate their willingness to support local schools and what we’re trying to do.
“People really came together on this,” he added. “It’s exciting to see that we’re able to give our students the best possible chance to perform better and compete both on the field and off the field.”