SPC announces new outdoor fitness court to honor former professor

LEVELLAND – South Plains College will open the Judy Bryant Outdoor Fitness Court in spring 2024. It will be located south of the Natatorium on E.M. Barnes Drive. The concrete slab has already been poured for the court.

Through a partnership with the National Fitness Campaign, the new facility will use community wellness practices in an outdoor circuit training area. While the NFC provides design and planning services and a trademarked outdoor infrastructure product, the Fitness Court uses a mobile app and an engagement wall. The facility will feature the interlocking SPC logo, a thank-you to Blue Cross/Blue Shield for their $50,000 grant to support the project, as well as an honorary banner to honor Mrs. Bryant.

The fitness court is designed to provide a full-body workout. As a patron rotates through all seven zones (core, squat, push/lunge/pull/agility/bend) he or she will receive a circuit training workout to boost energy levels. The court will be of benefit to individuals of all fitness levels and will be ADA-compliant.

According to Dee Anna Ninemire, director of the Physical Fitness Center and associate professor of physical education, “Dr. Lynne Cleavinger, dean of students, received an email from Blue Cross/Blue Shield regarding a fitness grant, and she sent that to me. I had an idea about an outdoor fitness court in honor of Judy Bryant because of all her contributions to SPC. She was instrumental in the creation of the awesome PE complex facility we use today. Judy has also influenced thousands of students over her years of service. There is no greater champion for physical education than Judy Bryant.”

“After getting approval from the administration, I applied for the grant, and we were awarded $50,000,” she said.

Ninemire said she was surprised and honored that the college received the full amount of the grant. BCBS was looking to partner with community colleges that already encourage fitness within the community, so SPC was an ideal recipient. The college currently provides access to students and members of the community to use its weight rooms, Natatorium, gymnasiums, tennis courts, outdoor track, pickleball courts and outdoor basketball court.

She then contacted Julie Gerstenberger, vice president for institutional advancement, about acquiring additional funds to pay for the court. Mrs. Gerstenberger reached out to Scott Bryant, Mrs. Bryant’s son, about the opportunity to honor his mother via the outdoor fitness center. He welcomed the opportunity.

“I am very happy to be able to support this great fitness court and give back to the community and South Plains College for everything they’ve done for us,” Mr. Bryant said. “When I gave her the information on the project, she was extremely excited about it. I’m glad we were able to do this in her honor.”

Mrs. Bryant echoed her son’s excitement. She said, “I didn’t know anything about this surprise, and it is really wonderful. My son is an extremely generous man, and I just love him so much.”

Mrs. Bryant joined the faculty at SPC as an instructor in 1968. She became chairperson of the physical education department in 1994 and a full professor in 1995. She achieved the status of “master teacher” when she received the college’s Excellence in Teaching Award from her peers.

Throughout her 43-year career, Mrs. Bryant held several positions and contributed to the college by serving as the cheerleader sponsor, women’s basketball coach, assistant director of student activities, and coordinator of women’s physical education. In spring 2023, Mrs. Bryant was honored with the unveiling of Judy Bryant Boulevard as a special tribute from her son. The street naming was part of the 2023 SPC Scholarship Gala, and by offering the winning bid for it in the live auction, the street bears Mrs. Bryant’s name for one year.

The Judy Bryant Outdoor Fitness Court will be completed in spring 2024.