Missouri Southern State University celebrated the 10th anniversary Tuesday of its Beimdiek Recreation Center, which officially recognized its first decade of operation in August.

"The time that I've been here, I feel like it's had a great impact on campus," said Steven Benfield, director of recreational services.

The university broke ground for the $16.5 million recreation center in March 2008, and it opened in August 2009 inside Billingsly Student Center. The 71,000-square-foot building was funded by a $1 million gift from George S. Beimdiek, a Carthage businessman and insurance professional who died in 2007, as well as from student fees.

In its first 10 years, the recreation center has hosted hundreds of fitness classes and intramural games, employed hundreds of students and offered more than 50,000 student memberships, according to information from the university. It also has shown approximately 250 movies in Phelps Theatre, on its lower level, and has held more than 3,700 nonstudent memberships.

Luz Galindo, a senior kinesiology major and soccer player, said she primarily uses the recreation center to stay in shape during her sport's offseason. She said she would have to pay extra fees to use off-campus gyms, but at Missouri Southern, student fees — including a recreation center fee — are rolled into tuition for billing purposes.

"All of (the fees for Beimdiek) are already included in tuition," she said. "I don't think I'd use any other gym but this one."

Galindo, who also has worked as a student employee at the recreation center for about two years, said activities offered at Beimdiek include classes in yoga, pilates and Zumba, as well as weights, basketball and volleyball courts, a walking track and swimming pool, racquetball, and a variety of cardio equipment.

"There's a little of something for everybody," she said. "There are students coming in at 6 a.m. all the way until we close at 10 p.m. We easily get 400 to 450 people per day."

Benfield said the recreation center is used by students, faculty and staff. It also is visited by a variety of academic classes, by members of the Show-Me Gold program, by athletics and sports camps, and by the university police department for physical training, he said.

The center also temporarily housed the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 tornado, which led to the opportunity to host the Joplin Memorial Run's annual expo each May, he said.

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.

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