Hillsdale College's Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center has Groundbreaking Ceremony

Hillsdale College's Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center has Groundbreaking Ceremony

Release courtesy of Brad Monastiere, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations and Event Management, Hillsdale College

HILLSDALE, Mich. - When she was a student at Hillsdale College in the 1990s, Margot Biermann embodied many of the qualities that come to mind when thinking of the quintessential Hillsdale College student. A tender spirit. A dedicated learner. An enthusiastic and relentless distance runner. However, the path she took to the College was most unusual, since she was 44 years old when she walked into her first classroom as a freshman. She graduated summa cum laude in 1993 with a degree in elementary education and went on to teach in the Detroit area.

Sadly, the world was robbed of Mrs. Biermann’s talents far too early, when she passed away in October 2010. But her spirit and passion will live on within the newest building on Hillsdale College’s campus.

On May 11, 2012, the College held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center, signaling the start of an exciting new chapter in the history of Hillsdale College athletics. The new building’s primary purpose will be to house the Charger men’s and women’s track teams as well as its women’s tennis team. The 76,000-square-foot facility will be located just to the west of the Simpson Baseball Field. A January 2013 opening is planned for the new facility.

“This building will provide space for two types of activities: first, large campus and community gatherings that attract very large crowds, like Commencement, Convocation, concerts, and when the College hosts noteworthy speakers, and the second type of activity will be its most typical use, physical activities,” said Hillsdale College athletic director Don Brubacher. “It will also, though, provide quality space to every member of the Hillsdale College community. It will see an immense variety of activities, particularly during the long, cold, Michigan winters.”

A six-lane oval/nine-lane straightaway indoor track will surround the facility, with four tennis courts covering the interior. This track will meet all standards currently in place to host an NCAA championship-level event. A large mezzanine will be constructed at the south end of the building, enabling plenty of room for spectator seating.

Coaches’ offices, an athletic training room and hundreds of square feet of storage area will also be included in the Biermann Center. The storage will be particularly beneficial to the track program, whose members have had to conduct practices in a crowded gym with three to four other teams simultaneously for many years.

Women’s track and cross country coach Andrew Towne said the new facility will help Hillsdale stay atop any list of preferred locations for elite-level runners to compete throughout the year.

“It is a bold symbol of the College’s continuing commitment to our student-athletes,” Towne said. “The track is undeniably unique in its design, especially in terms of its width. From the beginning, every effort was made to maximize the width of the track, because of how the width of a track positively affects the ‘speed’ of a track. The track oval features the NCAA’s widest-allowable inside radius (21 meters) and the NCAA’s widest-allowable lanes (48 inches). It is precisely this wide design that should allow the Biermann Center to quickly become a competitive destination for elite athletes.”

In the Fall of 2011, Hillsdale College resurrected the varsity women’s tennis program. The timing of that program’s renewal ties in nicely with the opening of the new building, which will stand alone as one of the finest tennis facilities in this entire region. Women’s tennis coach Nikki Dzubay cited the benefits of year-round training this building will yield her players as one of its primary benefits.

“With the re-building of a new tennis program, the start of this track/tennis center could not have come at a better time,” Dzubay said. “As a team, we are beyond grateful for this new space and the work that all have done into planning this facility. As a coach, I know this facility will help further improve our tennis training year round, and I am confident we will be making great strides toward becoming a strongly competitive team.”

Plans are also in place for Jesse Philips Arena to receive a significant facelift as part of the new athletic building project. The basketball/volleyball court will be flipped 90 degrees from its current north/south orientation to an east/west alignment. Wood-floor practice courts will be installed on each of the main playing courts, which greatly expands practice room for the Hillsdale College volleyball and basketball teams. Brand-new locker rooms and a video conference/media room will also be highlights of the renovation.

“Eventually, our goal is to enable all of our varsity teams to practice from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, without variance,” Brubacher said. “Creating a more stable practice schedule will enable our student-athletes not only to work more efficiently in their sport, but will also create a better structure to spend time on homework and studying.” Arena renovation is tentatively scheduled to begin after the completion of the 2012-13 men’s and women’s basketball seasons, and is hoped to be finished in time for the 2013 volleyball season.

Biermann is the deceased wife of the building’s primary donor, Frank J. Biermann. During her life, Margot Biermann was a competitive distance runner, completing 26 marathons in cities such as Detroit, New York and Boston, and as far away as New Zealand. She was born in the Netherlands and met Frank while he was traveling in Europe following completion of graduate school. Frank and Margot were married for 38 years. Before her passing, Margot expressed her wish to share her family’s good fortune with the place that played such an integral role in her life. Frank says Hillsdale College compelled Margot to strive for excellence in academics and in life. His hope is that this new building will facilitate similar qualities in Hillsdale College students of this and future generations.

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