When Bob and June Heck became involved with the Hodag swim program 35 years ago, they were not expecting to develop a lifelong passion for the sport.
“We looked at swimming as a way for our kids to learn how to swim,” said Bob Heck. Heck, who stated that “he could not swim across a bathtub” believed with all of the lakes in the area, it was important to learn the basics of swimming and also believed strongly in activities and athletics.
After seeing their five children swim and their two sons compete on both a state and national level, Bob and June are proud to be giving back to the program. “There are a lot of life lessons gained from being involved in athletics,” said Dave Heck, a 1988 graduate of Rhinelander High School. “Sports and being involved in extra curricular activities teaches you discipline and helps develop a strong work ethic for your future. It also teaches you the values of winning and losing and not giving up.”
The Hecks are helping to give the next generation a hand up with a $100,000 donation to the Hodag Facilities Foundation Capital Campaign announced at a Rhinelander School Board meeting on Dec. 19. The donation is being given by the Heck Family: Bob and June Heck, David and Gina Heck, and Ken and Jenny Heck. In addition to supporting overall school facility improvements, the donation will dramatically improve the Rhinelander High School swim facilities. The equipment, display, electrical upgrades, and starting platforms resulting from the donation are the latest technology, and will provide excellent training tools and a competitive platform for years to come.
“The System 6 Scoring is the same system used for the NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Championships,” said Bob Heck. “The renovation of the pool area allowed for the installation of a fully in-deck timing system on both the start end and the turn end-removing all cabling from the deck to create a cleaner and safer environment.”
Ken Heck, a 1986 graduate of Rhinelander High School, volunteers his time to teach swim skills to area youth as part of the coaching team for the Rhinelander Swim Club, and has seen the benefits of the facility upgrades first hand. “It’s important to have a place to teach young kids how to swim,” said Ken Heck. “As they grow and become more competitive, the equipment will help them to gain skills more quickly and safely. The new starting blocks are a major improvement, and the technology upgrades are phenomenal, which can improve efficiencies in running meets and improve the total experience. Overall, these improvements show the kids we believe in them, and the community.”
A new scoreboard displays the name, team, split and time for each swimmer-a significant upgrade from the previous display. AquaGrip touchpads combine the best non-slip surface and a fully active pad, providing better timing accuracy and display integration. “Rhinelander High School, with its new digital media center and overall facility improvements, is now leading the way for other schools with the best technology and equipment available,” said Bob Heck.
The Rhinelander High School pool improvements were not part of the referendum additions with the exception of HVAC and minor structural improvements. The pool at Rhinelander High School was built in 1958, and is the only competition pool in Rhinelander. It serves as practice and competition space for the RHS boys and girls swim team, JWMS girls swim team, RHS cross country team, Special Olympics and Oneida County Dive Team. In addition, the facility hosts community and school activities, such as physical education classes, public swim lessons, adult open swim and community organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, Honey Rock, Fort Wilderness and Chippewa Ranch.
The pool also serves the rapidly growing Rhinelander Swim Club, which donated $50,000 this spring for various improvements to the pool. Three years ago, the club had 49 swimmers. Today, in its 48th season, it has grown to 90, and has a strong future. “The technology and equipment upgrades have enhanced the competitive aspects of the pool and will make our facility more sought after for hosting club meets” said Ken Heck. “These meets draw hundreds of regional swimmers, plus coaches, parents and families to Rhinelander, which brings business back to the community.”
As business owners and employers in the area, the Hecks see the important role school facilities have in a community. “I’m proud of my experience with Rhinelander High School,” said Dave Heck, who currently volunteers his time as President of the Hodag Facilities Foundation. “I want to see our students and community thrive. I’m amazed by the many individuals, businesses and volunteers who are coming together to help our students and our community achieve their fullest potential. The time to invest in Rhinelander and its future is now.”
For more information on the Hodag Facilities Foundation, call (715) 369-0900, visit hodagfacilities.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.