Tipton Community School Corporation (TCSC) announced today that it is getting a new workout facility from the Carmel, Indiana-based Philanthropist and Founder/CEO of Four Quadrants Advisory, Jason Smith. Smith states his inspiration for this project came from a former Tipton High School alum, Steve Powell.
Powell graduated from Tipton High School in 1991 and went on to play football for Purdue University. After college, Powell returned to Tipton to give back in his own way to the high school he loved. For many years Powell coached track & field and football at the high school. Sadly, Powell lost his battle with brain cancer in October 2018.
“I think it's a great and touching gesture to have the new weight room dedicated in Steve’s memory,” said Rik Stillson, Principal, Tipton High School. “He had a huge passion for not only teaching students how to be fit and physically stronger but many valuable life lessons along the way. It's a fitting tribute to Steve.”
During a conversation with Aaron Tolle, Head Football Coach for the Tipton Blue Devils in 2018, Smith said that Tolle mentioned the weight room was the same as it was 25 years ago when he used to use it. “When I saw the condition of the weight room I wondered how in the world can these kids compete with other schools when their weight room hasn't been updated in a quarter of a century?” recalled Smith, who thought maybe there is something he could do to help.
Smith would go on to form a committee with Aaron Tolle, Rik Stillson, and Tipton Athletic Director, Kory Fernung, to figure out how to make this happen. With a shrinking City tax base and reduced school funding at all levels, significant private donations like this do not happen often. Smith, a seasoned businessman, felt he could partner with the Tipton School Corporation for a win-win. "Together, we were able to find some money in bonds that had not been used and coupled with our multi-year donation, we are making it happen,” explained Smith, who credits TCSC Superintendent, Kevin Emsweller, for being a major player in this project.
“A couple of years ago, a very successful student athlete wrote me a letter as part of a class project,” recalled Superintendent Emsweller. “She explained why she went to a gym in Kokomo for training instead of our weight room. She also shared reasons for updating the weight room. While we looked at various options for upgrading the facilities including building a fieldhouse, costs were prohibitive. Mr. Smith's generous donation provided an impetus to take on this much needed upgrade to the weight room, not just for student athletes, but for all students as we place an emphasis on wellness.”
“From the first time I sat down with Kevin, he was very supportive and proactive in helping with the construction part,” continued Smith, who also complimented Aaron’s hard work and contributions in bringing this project to reality. "Aaron's role was vital working closely with equipment vendors, and visiting other schools so he could develop an informed equipment plan which led to getting the right equipment at a fair price.”
“This new renovation is going to do wonders for Tipton High School and its student athletes,” Coach Tolle pointed out.
Stillson agrees. "Physical fitness is an important part of education,” he noted. “It's a piece that oftentimes gets overlooked. I'm very excited that we are upgrading the weight room to provide a safe and appealing classroom to give students that opportunity."
"Students today see how these alumni support them now and that is instilled in them for when they have the opportunity to help in the future," added Rick Powell, President, TCSC School Board.
Construction started in early June and is expected to be complete mid-August. A special community ribbon cutting and dedication on the new facility will take place later in the fall.