John Kubal/Register: Tuesday was turf day at the Fishback Indoor Training Facility powered by Brookings Health System. A crew from Midwest Field Turf of Denison, Iowa, put down the first grassy-green layer. Next will come a layer of sand, followed by a layer of finely cut-up pieces of rubber tires; both layers will be worked in with a power broom. The field measures about 150 feet by 85 feet.

By: John Kubal, The Brookings Register – Updated: 5 days ago

Posted Mar 11, 2021

Indoor training center in use by end of March

BROOKINGS – The out-front sign says a lot about a long-awaited building on Main Avenue South that will serve the Brookings area community well: it’s the “Fishback Indoor Training Facility powered by Brookings Health System.”

Both the (Van and Barb) Fishback family and BHS “gave the same amount of donations ($200,000 each, with a lesser donation from First Bank & Trust),” emphasized Darin Weber, vice president of the Brookings Futbol Club. 

“Really, everything that happens in here is powered by Brookings Health System. That’s why you’ll see the sign on the outside and there’ll be more signage inside as well,” Weber added.

“It’s a partnership or collaboration, between the two organizations, the overall sponsorship of the building and the activities that take place there,” explained Jason Merkley, CEO and president of Brookings Health System.

“It shows both of our commitments to the facility. I’m so excited for it. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of different sports, not just soccer. And it will free up some space in the gyms that we currently have a lot of stuff going on in. It’ll be good for Brookings; it’ll be good for our youth.”

For the first couple of years, BHS will occupy the front area of the facility. The Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program that BHS now operates in the South Dakota State University Wellness Center will relocate to the FIT.

BHS purchased new equipment for the rehab program, Merkley said. It will be put in place “as we ramp up that program out there.”

Best-case scenario, the program will run out of the FIT in early April. There are presently about 70 people enrolled in the program. BHS’s $200,000 commitment is for 2,500 square feet. In about two years it will take over space in a larger area now occupied by Dakota Land Design, which put together the plans for the facility.

The facility has a rubberized walking track that encircles the inside perimeter. Weber added that in addition to the track, rehab participants “can use the turf as well for anything that they need and maybe even our mezzanine level for stretching, yoga, anything that they have there. That’ll be going on every morning here.”

Not just for soccer

In a best-case scenario, a variety of sporting activities could be up and going in the FIT by the end of March.

“We’ll start holding indoor practice for our soccer club,” Weber said. “We’re kind of in a transition period. Are we indoor soccer right now or are we outdoor? Because outdoor season is getting ready. We’re taking kind of a hiatus right now. We’ll start doing soccer activities in here almost immediately. As soon as we can get on the turf.”

Weber is also working with Friends of Brookings Baseball members, “because they’re getting ready to move outdoors as well. But we have this period of time where we can experiment with the batting cages: how many kids they’ll have in here and what they’ll use.

“I think they’re going to be a user of the facility next December, January, February and March as they’re getting ready to prepare for outdoors. That’s what we’ll use this window for, before it gets nice and everybody will be ready to be outside.”

Moving on, Weber described what a plus the size of the facility was for soccer: “The main field itself is almost a regulation U-11, U-12, so they play 9 vs. 9 at that age. If it’s raining outside that age group can get almost a full, normal usage field-practice.

“So we think we’ll use this more often year round than a lot of people imagine.”

The distance of the walking track has yet to be measured. Smiling, Weber hinted that determining how-many-laps-to-a-mile might make for a “social media trivia contest.”

He noted that Daktronics donated a couple of scoreboards.

Weber also noted that the Futbol Club is working with SDSU to develop an internship for students majoring in facilities management. An employee could help manage the facility on a day-to-day basis. 

For now, however, use of the FIT is “by-reservation only” via a user agreement tied to when the facility would be used. For example, “like baseball, four months they’re going to use it.” And the facility will be available to the general public

“Absolutely. Especially for the walkers,” Weber said. “We want to make sure the community sees this. This is a pretty impressive building.” The details of cost per user and how to get into the building (maybe via something such as a punch card) need to be determined. A plan with such details should be in place by November, about the time when inclement weather is likely to have people looking for indoor activities conducive to fitness and wellness.

“For sure, we want that sort of activity to happen.”

Weber did explain that the FIT “is not a recreation center.” Most such facilities are publicly built, funded and maintained. The FIT is a private undertaking.

The Brookings Futbol Club (think soccer) “has a board of directors that has been integral in putting this together,” Weber explained, as to governing body for the facility. Over the past 10 years he has served in a variety of offices, including president. Eight of those years he has dedicated to bringing the Fishback Indoor Training Facility to fruition.

Contact John Kubal at

Courtesy of The Brookings Register

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