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It was the day before Father’s Day, and former Lakeland College athletes from several decades were, fittingly, honoring a man many looked to as a father.
Lakeland formally dedicated its new gymnasium The Moose and Dona Woltzen Gymnasium, honoring Duane “Moose” Woltzen, one of Wisconsin’s most successful college basketball coaches, and his wife, Dona.
“Today is the day before Father’s Day,” said Waymon Stewart, an NAIA all-American and 1969 Lakeland graduate who still holds several school records. “Isn’t it appropriate when Moose was such a father to most of us?”
Woltzen, an Illinois native, and his wife came to Lakeland in 1964, and when he stepped down in 1988 he had amassed a 536-229 record, including 20 or more wins in 18 of his 23 seasons.
For years the state’s winningest basketball coach, Woltzen was the first college basketball coach in Wisconsin to win 500 career games and the Muskies won 11 conference championships during his tenure.
Woltzen, who remains closely connected with many of his former players, is a member of the Lakeland College Athletic Hall of Fame, Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Illinois State University Athletic Hall of Fame and NAIA District 14 Athletic Hall of Fame.
Lakeland’s new gym, which will open this fall, is part of a $6.4 million expansion of the Todd Wehr Athletic Center. Along with the new wood-floor gymnasium, which will seat 1,200 spectators (with a planned future expansion to seat 1,800), the project includes a 4,400-square-foot fitness center, several new locker rooms, a classroom and a multi-purpose room.
“It is the finest building the college has ever built and it deserves a good name,” said Lakeland President Stephen Gould. “Moose and Dona are, without question, the most respected couple in Lakeland College history. Together, they made a difference in the lives of many Lakeland student athletes.”
The expansion will add 47,000 square feet, nearly doubling Lakeland’s existing complex. The existing main lobby has been fully renovated, providing a central hub to both the existing facility and the expansion.
The fitness center is filled with life fitness equipment including treadmills and cardiovascular machines for use by Lakeland students and employees.
The existing gymnasium in the Wehr Center, which opened in the fall of 1984 and seats 900, will be used for intramural leagues and other recreation options that aren’t currently available due to space constraints.
“College students are active, and we have always had a goal of providing our always growing number of non-athletes with more opportunities for them to be active on our campus,” Gould said. “The current Wehr Center is busy from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m., so it’s nearly impossible for our non-athletes to form an intramural league or even shoot some hoops.
“The Wehr Center expansion offers something for everyone. Our basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams will have a new home court. And our non-athletes will have more room to roam inside on those cold winter days and nights.”
|Lakeland College Men’s Basketball Under Coach Duane “Moose” Woltzen|
23 seasons 536-229
*Denotes conference championship