John Kubal/Register: Brookings Futbol Club officials, soccer players, coaches, volunteers and others with a stake in the facility gather and let out a cheer Thursday evening at the naming ceremony for the under-construction Fishback Indoor Training Center – aka “FIT.” Located on Main Avenue South near the intersection of 32nd Street South, it includes 12,000 feet of artificial turf; batting cages; a walking track; and a rehabilitation area to be occupied by the Brookings Health System.

Center under construction to be known as the Fishback Indoor Training Center

“After seven years, it finally came to fruition,” Darin Weber, Brookings Futbol Club vice president, told a gathering at the “naming ceremony” Thursday evening for what will serve as an indoor training facility for the soccer club. 

Gathered in front of the under-construction steel skeleton on the south edge of Brookings, near the intersection of Main Avenue South and 32nd Street South, were club officials, players, coaches, volunteers and others with a stake in what the facility offers above and beyond soccer.

In his remarks Weber singled out Van Fishback, “(who) has been a mentor to me during this process. He started right from the beginning, … with a couple of (recommendations): ‘We’ve got to dream bigger, we’ve got to see what this thing can actually become.’ And he stuck by four or five different proposals and things like that.

“But he’s also stepped up to be a lead donor for us, and for that, it’s very important I think that we recognize Van and the Fishback family, because this thing’s going to be known as the ‘FIT,’ the Fishback Indoor Training Center.” 

Weber’s remarks were greeted with a round of applause by the assemblage.

Moving on, Weber next singled out the Brookings Health System as another key partner, with the FIT being “a big deal for them.” 

Weber noted the wish to keep the center affordable and available for other individuals and groups in addition to the BFC that would want to use it; accordingly, fundraising efforts will continue.

Finally, he cited Dakota Land Design, which “put the plans together,” as a third partner in bringing the facility to its construction phase. The company will occupy space in the center for awhile after its opening.

Speaking with The Register following the ceremony, Weber said that if the timeline goes as planned the facility should be finished “the end of December or the first quarter of next year, March at latest.”

Describing the facility, he said it would include: 12,000 feet of artificial turf, similar to that at South Dakota State University’s Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center; batting cages inserted into the netting system; a walking track; and a rehabilitation area occupied by the Brookings Health System.

To date key contributions for the FIT have come from First Bank & Trust; from Van and Barb Fishback; and from Brookings Health System.

Brookings Health System sees multiple uses

“We’ve been a supporter of the Brookings Futbol Club since its inception,” Jason Merkley, CEO and president of the Brookings Health System, said in an interview with The Register. “Our take on (the center) is twofold; one of which is that it would free up space for some of the other sports that do things in the winter, practicing and playing. It would keep kids happy, healthy and lastly, it’s an opportunity for us to potentially do some programming in that space, when it gets up and established, with some of our programs here in the Brookings Health System.”

A major one of those is the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program, jointly administered by BHS and SDSU and working out of the SDSU Wellness Center.

“That’s worked out well and kudos to that issue and the Wellness Center,” Merkley said. “But that’s not the best place, right? That program has outside folks that are coming in. It’s tough parking. It competes with some of the students; really, it’s their Wellness Center.

“We would take that program and move it out to this facility. They could do their walking and their cardiac-related exercises out there and utilize some of the turf fields. So we have some programming like that that could be done there.”

And in time, therapy-related programs could be moved there.

“Down the road we might look at some level of how we work with kids and put together some sort of sports-performance enhancement type of program together in conjunction with a partner. Those are certainly things that are possibilities that could utilize some of that turf and some of those areas do some of that programming.”

He called the present state of the club’s overall project sort of “boots on the ground.”

Merkley said the BHS’s financial commitment of $200,000, for occupation of 2,500 square feet, was “set in stone.” 

He explained, “That money will come in two different fiscal years for us: at the end of this year and sometime in the beginning of next year.” Additionally, BHS will enter into a long-term lease at the FIT.

Contact John Kubal at

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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