Change has been brought to the campus of Elder High School (Cincinnati) for the first time in nearly 30 years.
In a ceremony Saturday afternoon along Vincent Avenue, Elder brass announced the opening of the Panther Fitness Center, which is the first newly-constructed building on the Price Hill campus since the Memorial Fieldhouse was completed in 1980, according to a press release.
“This was an idea that started back in 2014 and now it’s finally come to fruition,” Elder Athletic Director Kevin Espelage said. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the teamwork and the commitment of so many individuals. We wanted to build a facility that would be a lifestyle changer for all students – past, present and future students at Elder High School. Today, certainly we’re making Elder great.”
Kyle Rudolph, a 2008 Elder grad and current tight end for the Minnesota Vikings, was one of the key donors to the new center.
“A lot of people ask why and the biggest reason I can say why is because what this place did for me and the man this place turned me into,” Rudolph said. “I came here as a 14-year-old kid who grew up knowing this would be the only place I would go to high school.
“From the age I could walk, the age I could talk, it was all Elder all the time. I was always a fan of Elder High School. Without this place I wouldn’t be half the person I am today. When I asked coach Rankin about this opportunity, I told him, ‘The kids of Elder High School, current and future, deserve this building.’ Both mentally and spiritually they’re being developed into some of the finest young men in the country. This high school deserves the best.”
Principal Kurt Ruffing said the fitness center is one way to dispel any rumor of the school ever leaving Price Hill.
“We’re here to stay, we’re not going anywhere. There’ve been plenty of rumors throughout the year that Elder is moving out west. No we’re not. We’re staying right here on top of Price Hill,” the 1981 Elder grad said.
Saturday marked the completion of the first phase of the Panther Fitness Center. The first floor includes a 5,870 square-foot weight-training space, a changing room and locker room, a lobby and a coaches’ office.
Elder will soon seek fundraising for the second phase of the fitness center. According to Ruffing, it will take approximately $700,000 to finance the final phase, which will include a 6,000 square-foot multi-purpose room, storage areas, a potential meeting space and a parking lot on the northwest side of the building.
According to the press release, the completed fitness center will be a two-story complex measuring nearly 20,000 square feet that will “increase the space, safety, efficiency, and performance standards for students and student-athletes alike.”