Gloucester High School’s weight room and fitness center is set to have a new look.
In January, the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association, a local non-profit organization that helps Gloucester athletes in many ways and was a driving force behind the Newell Stadium project that was finished in 2013, started raising funds to rehabilitate the fitness facility at the school. The organization has held multiple fundraisers since for the project, which has a budget of $120,000, and a private donor has promised to match the first $50,000 donated.
Over the years, the weight room has become a bit outdated and in need of an update with some of the equipment deteriorating.
“The room had not been touched in well over 20 years,” GFAA President Kristin Michel said. “The equipment is damaged and somewhat makeshift. We felt it was time for a refresh to meet the student’s needs.”
A purchase order has already been signed and the project is slated to start this summer. All of the old equipment has been removed from the facility and the first order of business later this summer will be to put in new floors. After the floors are put in, the workout equipment will be installed.
The GFAA worked closely with several GHS coaches and staff including football coach Dan O’Connor, cross country coach Ali Mitchell, track and field coach David Coleman, assistant field hockey and girls hockey coach Don Riley, GHS physical education teacher Jim Unis, who used the fitness center as his classroom during the 2021-22 school year, and former GHS Athletic Trainer Alyssa Williamson.
The goal for the coaches and staff is to make the facility a place where all athletes can work out.
“We need a place on school grounds where the kids can do everything they need,” O’Connor said. “We want this to be a place for all athletes to workout and a place that works for physical education classes too. It builds camaraderie not only within each team but within the athletic program as a whole.”
The updated weight room and fitness center will feature updated equipment of all kinds. Two decade old pulley machines will be replaced with brand new, updated versions. The old weight benches, many of which were torn and in rough shape, will also be replaced. Exercise equipment such as stationary bikes will be added to the room as well, replacing older versions that have been in the room since it was built in the late 90’s. It will also feature a strip of turf to help athletes work on their footwork and quickness.
It will also be a big help to athletes looking rehabilitating from injuries as current GHS Athletic Trainer Jason Mason will be able to work with athletes to help recovery. Currently Mason does his rehab work at Addison Gilbert Hospital.
The new facility will be named in memory of Greg Swinson, who taught history and science in the Gloucester Public School system for 35 years. Swinson was also a former assistant football coach at GHS who was known for his dedication as a strength and conditioning coach and his sense of humor, making difficult work fun for the athletes. He was a mainstay in the GHS weight room, helping all Gloucester athletes learn how to work out for their specific sports.
“He put so much time and effort into helping athletes in the weight room,” O’Connor said. “He taught hundreds of athletes in all sports, myself included, how to workout the right way, the safe way and to have fun with it. It’s a fitting honor to name it after him.”
Fundraising is still ongoing for the facility and donations are still being accepted. Look to GHS Fitness Center Rehabilitation Project and the GFAA’s venmo page to make a donation. The hope is to have the fitness center completed by the time the 2022-23 school year begins in the fall.
Staff writer Michael Cronin contributed to this report.