Oyster River High School has a well known weight room that sits tucked away behind one of the walls of the basketball court. Gym classes, sports teams, and students just looking to get fit all share this area, which means that a lot of people rely on it as a place to work out. However, in the past few years, there has been concern with the equipment – some of the weights, bars, machines, and other crucial pieces have become either damaged or broken. At the end of last year, there were numerous machines that were removed from the weight room to create space, and many of the damaged bars and weights were taken away, but there have yet to be replacements. This leaves many students wondering when new equipment might arrive, or if it will at all.
Jacob Zercher, a member of Oyster River’s Indoor Track and Field team, says that he liked the removal of a few machines that the school took away at the end of last year. “Last year, the hip adductor and abductor machines were removed, which saved a lot of space. Personally, I liked that decision, because it gives more room in the already cramped space for lifts that require a lot of floor space.” However, he would like to see new equipment in their place. “I’m sure there are other people who would love to get some useful equipment instead, like a machine for hamstring curls or something.”
Zercher states that they haven’t heard much from staff or administration on the issue of new equipment. “Nick Ricciardi was talking about the possibility of getting some new Olympic bars earlier this year, but I think that fell through or something,” he says, “but I haven’t heard anything from Mr. Parker.”
Zercher has decided to take matters into his own hands for this project. “Alex Johnson (assistant track coach) and I came up with the idea for some student athletes from the track team to pool together some money to buy a bar, because strength training is imperative for a lot of what the sprint crew does. We have yet to talk to Mr. Parker about the liability, because we’d be using the bar on school property, but I’m almost certain it should be fine,” Zercher explains. “We’re waiting to see how many more people want to pitch in so we can defray the costs for each of us as much as possible before we pull the trigger on buying it.”
However, while this may solve the track team’s problems, the bar would most likely not be for public use. This means that students from other teams or who are on no team at all will still have to use the equipment provided. Zercher says that he does not know anyone else who is planning to self-fund their equipment like he is. For many, the school’s weight room may be the only option for a fitness center – gym memberships can be pricey, many do not allow people under 18, and none are as accessible to students as the one in their own school.
However, recently there’s been a ray of hope for an upgraded weight room – track coach and teacher Nick Ricciardi has convinced Seacoast Sports Clubs to donate thousands of dollars worth of gently used dumbbells from 25 – 100 pounds. Ricciardi says this will be a huge improvement, because many of the previous dumbbells are bent or lacking matches. “I’m in the process of trying to find more equipment, but it’s hard to find donors because of how expensive the stuff is,” states Ricciardi. He hopes that this addition will help kickstart a more complete modernization of the weight room, but he still doesn’t know when exactly that may come.
Written by Thomas Cote