During his tenure at Oberlin College, college President Marvin Krislov has positively developed the culture of health and wellness, and athletics at Oberlin College. The evolution will continue as the new Austin E. Knowlton Athletics Complex is developed.
In 2007, Philips Gym looked very similar to the way it does today. The brown brick building was in need of a fresh face. But on the inside, much has changed, with posters in the gymnasium, photographs lining the walls of the coaches’ offices and even more action shots lining the weight room walls. Five years ago, the prospect of new facilities seemed far off; the focus was on maintaining the facilities. Today, a new building is right around the corner. Construction began this week on the north complex, which includes a new state-of-the-art football field with lights, locker room facility and social space. The south complex, which will house a natatorium, renovated weight room, cardio space and a South Campus gym are up next. All of these projects have come to a fruition as a result of President Marvin Krislov’s emphasis on the athletic community since he came here seven years ago.
“Health and wellness is very important to me, and I feel that it should be important to everyone,” said President Krislov. “It is important for the way we function, and it is certainly important for longevity of life. I find that when I exercise, I am a lot better mentally, but I also feel better. I think that I am healthier and happier, and clearly I can live longer, or at least I have the potential to live longer because I exercise.”
Just last year, the Krislov family made a generous donation to the athletic facility to update weight room equipment. Prior to this donation, the weight room contained the bare minimum: some dumbbells, a few squat racks with weights, one old mat used for stretching and a handful of machines. The equipment was old and worn down, the lighter five and ten-pound dumbbells were missing, and there was not enough equipment for all to use.
With this donation, the weight room received a much-needed upgrade. New squat racks arrived, with more than enough weights to go around. Dumbbells of all weights were added as well as new machines, mats, kettlebells, bosu balls, medicine balls and new benches. Weight room usage has increased incrementally as a result, and a team of 40 football players can work out and still leave enough equipment for other students, faculty and community members to use.
In addition to this donation, Krislov has played a key role in the capital campaign, working with Delta Lodge Director of Athletics and Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos and Senior Associate Director of Athletics Creg Jantz, to secure funding and space to renovate the athletic campus.
“Both [athletic directors] have done a great job, and I have been very supportive of them,” said Krislov.
“I know the usage of Philips has increased in the past few years, and we certainly have increased class offerings. I also hope that the new facility on the south end of Philips will make the gym even more inviting,” Krislov added.
Krislov hopes that the emphasis on health and wellness will continue to grow in the coming years. “Philips was built at a time pre-Title IX, and it did not anticipate the growth of interest among students, faculty and the community for exercising. My sense is that the health and wellness culture and athletics are improving, but I would not mind it to be a little stronger,” he said.
Winkelfoos had only positive things to say about Krislov. “Marvin [Krislov] has provided our department with support and guidance that has encouraged us to shine. He is a believer in how extracurricular activities — like athletics, club sports, playing intramurals, taking a physical education course — can add immense value to a student’s collegiate experience,” she said.
While the facilities have improved during Krislov’s time at Oberlin, the athletic teams have as well. Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications, Mike Mancini emphasized some of the Athletic department’s successes.
“This fall alone, the men’s soccer team made it to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, while the women’s cross country team went to nationals for the fifth straight season, earning its highest finish ever by placing eighth overall. Looking back at last spring, we had tremendous breakthroughs in men’s lacrosse and in baseball, where the team set numerous school records en route to its first ever [North Coast Athletic Conference] tournament,” he said.
According to Krislov, the success of Oberlin’s athletic teams has had a positive impact on the rest of the campus.
“It is great to cheer and support your friends, and I think that happens. But as we win more games, things become more exciting. The crowds really did respond to the men’s soccer breakout season this fall, and I think a lot of other teams are improving as well.”