Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Opinion: The pressing need to expand Branson’s weight room

Given Branson’s expanding student body and increased interest in the weight room, Branson should rethink its athletic facilities.
Cooper Tenney
The Branson football team works out with Bruce Pruiett. Pruiett has coached football team lifts all fall season.

Imagine this: it’s been a long and tedious day at school. All day, you’ve been looking forward to visiting the weight room after your last class. You get there, ready to workout. But guess what? It’s closed, because a team is using it, and there’s not enough room for anyone else. Or maybe there’s just too many people in there, and its too crowded for you.

 For lots of students, this is a reality. The weight room is an integral part of Branson. But, if you’ve ever visited it, you probably noticed that it’s not very big. 

Expanding and upgrading the weight room has been an ongoing discussion among the administration at Branson, so let’s talk about why students and faculty alike deserve a bigger and better weight room. 

According to Bruce Pruiett, Branson’s strength and conditioning coach, the weight room has gotten visibly more popular over the last five years, with more teams wanting to use the weight room.

“Adding students, from my point of view, the capacity and the use of the weight room doubled with just one class of kids coming in,” he said.

The effect of Branson’s movement to expand its student body has ramifications on the weight room that deserves attention. As Pruiett said, there’s going to be “more and more kids, there’s going to be more and more interest, there’s going to be more and more teams.” 

It would be a huge oversight to increase Branson’s population, and not to accommodate that with more space. The weight room needs to be able to evolve alongside the student body. 

Not only is this a matter of comfort but also a matter of safety. 

Pruiett said, “With the size of the weight room and the capacity of people in there, it does present some questions about safety, in terms of having enough space for all those students to be using the weight room at the same time.” 

People in the weight room need space to handle the equipment and exercises with care. If they keep having to move or watch out for other people, it’s hard to focus on what really matters: safety. 

When Dylan Whisenant ‘24, athletic ambassador and member of the varsity volleyball team, was asked if she felt like her team had enough space to workout safely and comfortably, she said, “I don’t honestly think so.” Her team consists of 16 people, and they usually use the weight room for team workouts two times a week. 

“I think having 16 people in that space, using racks, dumbbells, and benches just really isn’t sustainable,” she continued.

Audrey Knowles ‘24, varsity baseball player and athletics ambassador, expressed a similar sentiment. 

“We only have two squat racks and one cable machine. So it’s just really tough when there are [a lot of] kids there lifting by themselves or when there’s teams lifting,” she said. 

At the same time, the weight room is a great contribution to Branson’s atmosphere and culture, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a hub of self-improvement and hard work. While being super beneficial to student-athletes. 

As Whisenant said, “It has really just helped us all just all feel stronger on the court.” 

She’s not the only one who feels the benefits of the weight room on herself and her team. Charlie Zwibelman ‘24, co-president of the student body and member of the varsity baseball team said: “I’ve definitely gotten a lot physically stronger, which is super important for a sport like baseball, where it’s all about producing power.”

When listing the benefits of going to the weight room has had on him, he said that it helps him with “being healthier, more fit, and helping me avoid injuries.” 

I think having 16 people in that space, using racks, dumbbells and benches just really isn’t sustainable

— Audrey Knowles

Knowles echoed Zwibelman, saying, “Especially as a girl playing baseball, it’s really hard to have the same physical characteristics as the guys on my team. So lifting has been super helpful in that.” 

The weight room is a place for goals to be achieved and for limits to be broken. It is vital for student-athletes to have access to what they need in order to facilitate an environment of hard work and progress that Branson strives for.

Regarding the necessity of expanding the weight room, Whisenant added that “having it be a space where we’re all able to fit comfortably” would benefit the entire community, considering “everyone has to use the weight room at some point.” 

And she’s absolutely right. Anyone who has worked out alone, participated in team workouts, or even needed some equipment for sports practice, knows the weight room is the center of Branson athletics. 

When asked about all the foreseeable benefits of expanding the weight room, Knowles said that “it would be huge for everyone. You could have multiple teams up there at the same time, teams would be allowed to lift more often, and you could have individual people up there while a team is up there.” 

Its value is crucial to Branson. It’s important to keep in mind that athletes aren’t the only beneficiaries. “The community benefits as a whole if everyone is healthier, increases productivity,” Pruiett said. Making the weight room bigger is a large effort, but its something just about everybody in the community profits from. 

It’s important to note that Pruiett has done an astounding job of working with the limited space he has. His work at Branson has made such a difference for countless students and teachers. And with a bigger workspace, he could do even more for our community, help even more students in their athletic journeys. 

As Branson itself expands, we need to make accommodations for student and faculty needs, starting with upgrading and expanding the weight room. 

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About the Contributor
Ella Garrett, Writer