By: Ed Leiser '04
On Wednesday, October 31, the new St. Rita Fitness Center (The Ernie Mrozek Family Fitness Center) officially opened up for St. Rita students to use. This was the culmination of several months of building the state-of-the-art facility, which will be available for students and faculty before and after school.
The $2.8 million dollar fitness center/weight room is a beautiful sight to see for current students and alumni. St. Rita has long held a reputation for having top of the line facilities and venues on our spacious 37-acre campus, but a weight room upgrade was needed for several years. The old weight room—which had been atop the gym—will be customized into an upgraded Wrestling Room and Team Meeting Area and plans are in place for an indoor batting cage area as well.
The new Fitness Center, named after former St. Rita President and current Chairman of the Board, Ernie Mrozek '71, features some of the best in industry machines and equipment.
Among the highlights is a 30-yard indoor turf field which will aid our Ritamen in speed and agility work and short sprinting and running activities. There is one entire wall of the room dedicated to (7) power lifting stations for bench presses, squats, pull-ups, dips, and a variety of other exercises. Behind the machines are free weights, plates, and other equipment. Another wall features cardio equipment and new weight pull-down machines.
There was also a significant upgrade in additional equipment that was not readily available in the previous weight room due to space constraints. Ritamen now have the advantage of using stability balls, medicine balls, TRX ropes, and a variety of other equipment. It is a multi-purpose, functional room that optimizes the space and will accommodate anywhere from 50-100 students at a time.
St. Rita made sure this would be the preeminent fitness center in Chicago for high schools, with an 8-speaker audio system installed, electronic blinds to block the sun and customized lighting throughout the facility.
Perhaps best of all is the addition of John Griffin to a full-time role as Strength and Conditioning coach at St. Rita. "Coach Griff" has spent several years working out the football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and volleyball teams, and now will be the Mrozek Fitness Center Director, designing workouts and strength programs for the entire athletics department. St. Rita is lucky to have Coach Griffin's years of expertise in the fitness community and now a top-notch facility to use.
All of this was made possible through the support and generosity of St. Rita alumni, friends and benefactors over the last year and a half. The "Champions Will Be Made" Campaign has so far netted $6+ million to the school, which has gone directly into campus improvements.
In addition to the fitness center, St. Rita previously opened up a brand-new gym floor and bleachers (estimated at $400,000) and plans to open up the John McNicholas Baseball Clubhouse in the coming weeks. That $1 million dollar facility will be the new home of the St. Rita Mustangs baseball program.
There was also a new air conditioning unit installed into the school's Dining Hall for lunch and breakfast time, and a large investment into the school's already robust endowment fund. Security improvements totaling over $100,000 were also installed. Clearly, it has been an exciting few months around St. Rita with the campus improvements making our happy Ritamen even happier.
We cannot thank enough the support and generosity of our alumni who have made these improvements and upgrades possible. Without our alumni, we would not be where we are today, thriving in our 114th year as a premiere Catholic high school option for young men on the city's south side. We firmly believe our best days are still in front of us! Go Rita Go!