A recent groundbreaking ceremony at Hope College celebrated the beginning of construction for a highly anticipated addition to the college’s athletic complex.

The Jim Heeringa Athletic Center, a new $3.3 million locker room building to be located near the north end zone of Ray and Sue Smith Stadium, will serve the college’s 95-member football team each fall and its baseball and softball teams in the spring.

Though chilly winter conditions dominated the weather on groundbreaking day on Tuesday, Jan. 19, they did not dampen the event’s atmosphere. A jovial mood pervaded the Smith Stadium setting and launched the Hope athletic program into 2021 with hope for good things to come after a challenging year in 2020.  

“We are extremely excited to see construction begin on this project, and so are our student-athletes, coaches, alumni and others in the Hope community,” said Tim Schoonveld, director of athletics at Hope.  “We are confident the Heeringa Athletic Center will be another great tool that will allow us to compete with excellence and provide transformational experiences for our student-athletes. We look forward to watching its construction unfold. in the months ahead.”

Named for lead donor and long-time Holland resident Jim Heeringa, who died on October 21, 2020, the 10,000-square-foot facility will house three team locker rooms with 125 lockers for football, baseball and softball; an athletic training and rehabilitation room; position player meeting rooms for teaching and film review with state-of-the art technology; laundry and equipment rooms and storage; refueling stations; and in the main hallway, pictorial timelines featuring historical moments and notable performances for the football, baseball and softball programs.

With his lifelong partner Eileen Kilmer, Heeringa donated a total of $5 million to Hope College last fall. The couple designated approximately half of their gift to the locker room building and the other half to the college’s Department of Dance which will have its facilities improved in the college’s DeWitt Center and Dow Center.  The start of the latter project, which totals $5.5 million including a maintenance endowment, is yet to be determined as fundraising continues.

For the football team, the Jim Heeringa Athletic Center replaces Lugers Fieldhouse which was dedicated in 1991.  Current head football coach Peter Stuursma, a 1993 Hope graduate, was a junior on the team at the time.

"This new facility will be an awesome place for our student-athletes to build on Hope’s tradition of excellence,” Stuursma said.  “When Lugers opened, it was a great space closer to our playing fields that brought our team together.  When our football, baseball and softball teams walk into the new Heeringa Athletic Center soon, I know they too will experience similar camaraderie and appreciation. We all are grateful to Jim and Eileen for making this dream a reality."

Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony were President Matthew A. Scogin; Stu Fritz, head baseball coach; Mary Vande Hoef, head softball coach; and, Stuursma. Kilmer was unable to attend due to her winter residency out of state.

Architectural design for the Jim Heeringa Athletic Center is by AMDG Architects, Inc., and Midwest Construction is the building contractor. 

Site work will begin soon with the project's anticipated completion in August.