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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

WACO’s Kauffman Athletic Training and Fitness Center hosts ribbon-cutting ceremony

Sep 10, 2018
Photo by: Gretchen Teske Mark Kauffman holds the scissors and cuts the ribbon to mark the opening of the Kauffman Athletic Training Center at WACO High School on Friday, Sept. 7.

By Gretchen Teske, The JOURNAL


WAYLAND — When Mark Kauffman graduated from WACO High School in 1982, he never could have predicted he would be back 36 years later for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the athletic training and fitness center complex that would bare his name.

Kauffman, an Olds native, opened Athletico Physical Therapy Services at age 26. His company quickly grew to hosting over 400 locations in 11 states. Five years ago, WACO School Board President, Tim Graber, contacted him and asked if he would be interested in building a facility at his alma mater. Kauffman still has family in the area and jumped at the chance to once again be part of his community in a positive manor. “I’m very proud to have the Kauffman name on this facility,” he said to the crowd. “I’m very honored to be in front of you today; this is beyond my wildest dreams 36 years ago when I graduated from WACO.”

As an athletic trainer himself, Kauffman was pleased to be a part of the process and hopes students use it everyday. The facility will be open the public as well as students and will feature locker rooms, training and rehabilitation facilities for student athletes, and a turf-covered area for practicing drills. The facility will host an open house and grand opening on Friday, Sept. 14, and community memberships will be for sale shortly following.

Not all of the weight equipment has been delivered, however, as a fire at the shipping facility has set the date back a couple of weeks.

Despite the setbacks, Kauffman is very excited for the students to get to be able to use the facility, saying it was much needed. The old facility was not as well equipped for a large number of athletes and did not feature a rehabilitation center, something Kauffman feels is very important for young athletes to have access to. He said the feeling of seeing the center constructed and nearly ready for use was overwhelming, but very meaningful. “Watching all the student athletes walk in was really touching,” he said. “I saw all the people that were really going to use it and benefit so that really meant a lot.”

He continued to say he was very proud of his former community for pushing for this project to be a success. He says they were the catalysts for the success of the project and without them, it would not have gotten done. Although he now lives and works in Chicago, Kauffman says that his roots in southeast Iowa are very important to him. “A lot has changed, but it still feels like home,” he said.

Greg Growey graduated from WACO High School in 1977 and is now the owner of Studio 483, an architecture firm out of Davenport. Growey was contacted to design the complex and spent three years on the project. He said has a high school student, he never would have thought he would be back making an impact as big as this one, but was very honored to be part of the project that would help the community. “Growing up here you feel a sense of pride, a sense of connection and a desire to come back and do whatever you can,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with others here before and I’m just very appreciative of that. I’m always proud to tell everybody, wherever I go, where I came from.”

School board President Tim Graber was very happy with the outcome and looking forward to many successful years in the new complex. Graber said the special thing about the facility is that alumni came back to put it all together. He feels that Kauffman’s story of being from a small town and small school yet being successful is a story students need to hear and understand to truly grasp the concept that anything is possible. “That’s what education is all about,” he said. “We’re teaching the next generation.”

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