In what may be the largest grant in the history of the Altoona Area School District (AASD), the Sheetz family has donated $500,000 to pay for the construction of the district’s new weight-training center, The Altoona Mirror reported.
The money will be used to build a 36-by-100-foot facility near the school district’s stadium. An estimated $98,000 in weight training equipment will be placed in the facility when it’s completed.
The donation for the Sheetz Athletic Training Center is being given in memory of Joseph M. Sheetz, a 1963 AHS graduate who died two years ago.
"Our roots are here, and, as a family, we’ve been looking for ways to honor Joe, who loved sports of all kinds as do all of our family members," said Steve Sheetz. "We’ve always felt that sports played a key role in fostering teamwork and a feeling of togetherness, qualities that a family, and in our case, a family business, needs to be successful."
Several members of the Sheetz family as well as AASD administrators, school board members, coaches and student-athletes attended Friday morning’s press conference at Mansion Park.
"This is a great morning for the Altoona Area School District and our student-athletes," said superintendent Dennis Murray. "The Sheetz family has always been so supportive of the district. When we need help, they’ve been there for us, and they’re here for us today."
The AASD sponsors 38 interscholastic sports as well as an intramural program. The new athletic fitness center will impact the total athletic program.
"About 70 to 75% of our secondary students are involved in PIAA sports or intramurals, and all of those young people will be able to use the facility," Athletic Director Vince Nedimyer said. "We’re grateful to Sheetz for what they’ve done and continue to do in giving our athletes another avenue to succeed."
Football coach Phil Riccio has been hoping for a new weight room for several years.
"It’s been needed," Riccio said. "We’ve had some ups and downs with it, but the Sheetz family really came through, and this will be a great opportunity for our student-athletes.
Countless athletes and coaches told The Altoona Mirror the weight-training facility was long needed and will serve a critical role in helping the district’s athletes grow.