Long awaited Wellness Center nears completion

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NEW FACE OF THE COLLEGE – Southwestern’s Wellness Center will be home to basketball, water polo, volleyball, and swim and dive teams. Construction is expected to be complete in time for the fall semester. Photo by Eric Gonzalez

Jim Spillers said when he looks at the ongoing construction on the corner lot, he can see the future.

He likes what he sees.

Southwestern College’s ambitious new Wellness Center is on schedule for a fall 2017 opening. It will become the home of Jaguar basketball, water polo, volleyball, swim and dive. The complex will include two outdoor Olympic-sized pools, a training pool and a state of the art gymnasium. A separate building will house classrooms, offices, fitness labs and cardio-workout rooms.

Athletic Director Spillers said that the project will serve SWC, high school and community athletic programs.

“We elevate our programs from a water polo, swim and dive standpoint, but we also elevate the programs throughout the Sweetwater Union High School District,” he said. “It’s going to be one of the nicest aquatic complexes in Southern California. They’re going to be using this pool a lot.”

Facilities director Charolette Zolezzi agreed.

I think (the governing board) looked at it for community use,” she said. “We will use it for events and competitions. There might be a diving club in San Diego, we might bring in competitions. That will add in a whole other feature that the old pool didn’t have.”

A 2,500 seat gymnasium will feature six badminton courts, a volleyball court and two intercollegiate basketball courts. Zolezzi said the gymnasium will also be used for host civic and academic events.

“It’ll be a great place for large events,” she said, “similar to the Angela Davis event held in the old gym. I see that for the new gymnasium, too, serving the community and the district well.”

Basketball coach John Cosentino said the new gym will be a welcome change.

“I’ve been here 29 years, we haven’t even had a team room,” he said. “Next year we’ll actually have a team room and our own locker room. We used to share a locker room with the football team. If you’ve ever been in a football locker room, it’s horrendous. It’ll be really nice.”

Zolezzi said she is confident the center will open this fall. Despite building on top of an underground stream and heavy winter rains, she said construction crews were able to stay on schedule.

“There is a massive underground infrastructure,” she said. “There’s still an underground passageway where water runs. They had to put in these giant piers to hold the building up. It’s secured into the hard granite part of the ground. Where they have hit really hard secure ground.”

“I’m hoping that we’re able to keep going at a good clip and we’ll have everything ready for the fall. We’re on track for that now.”

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