Mt. Pleasant I.C.E. Arena builds new women’s locker room

As a hockey player and coach, Megan Brennan spends a lot of her time at the Isabella Community Sportsplex. But until recently, the lack of a dedicated women’s locker room at the I.C.E. Arena meant she never knew where she’d be changing in and out of her gear – it could be a restroom one day or a closet the next.

“Half the time I was getting changed in the lobby or in closets throughout the rink,” she says, and she was one of many females facing that issue on a regular basis. “Some individuals stopped coming for a while because there wasn’t a place to change.”

But that’s no longer the case at the popular facility on Remus Road in Mt. Pleasant after a newly built women’s locker room was recently unveiled. The $30,000 addition, funded by private grants and donations, has a private and secured entrance, showering facilities and restroom facilities, says Bob Weisenberger, a fiscal responsibility liaison to the board of directors of the I.C.E. Arena.

A women's locker room was recently added to the Mt. Pleasant I.C.E Arena“It has all the standard amenities,” says Weisenberger, who has been involved in the arena from its inception. “We’re very proud of it.”

While the facility does have several other locker rooms, some were designated for other purposes such as figure skating or the high school hockey team. With multiple user groups needing space at the same time on busy weekends, staff at the facility would often be left scrambling to find private locker room space for everyone – shifting groups around and coming up with temporary “Band-Aids.”

“Over the years, that has become somewhat problematic,” Weisenburger explains, and it was clear that a permanent solution was needed. Since the I.C.E. Arena is not publically funded, “it all boils down to money,” he says – but private donors made the project possible.

A private grant through the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation Women’s Initiative Fund, and a private donation from the Tom and Janet Kunse family, were the two primary funding sources.

“Those two gifts made up 85% of the project, and the rest of the money was gathered from private donations,” he says.

This includes generous gifts from Isabella Bank and Mercantile Bank, Weisenburger notes.

“I personally couldn’t be more happy and the rink management couldn’t be more happy with the overall success of the ice rink and the growth and promotion of female participants. We have a ton of women ice hockey players and we have a ton of female figure skaters from age 3 to age 80,” he says. “It’s a neat thing for Mount Pleasant that happened only because people gave of their money. There is no public taxpayer money to this program and this new female locker room has really put the icing on the cake for what we can do and how we’re set up to do it on the very limited budget that we have.”

Brennan, who started the Central Michigan University women’s club hockey team in 2009 and coaches youth hockey for the Mt. Pleasant Patriots, says many other ice arenas are still without a dedicated locker room for women.

“There are a lot of ice rinks that don’t have female locker rooms so, unfortunately, girls are used to getting changed in the bathrooms or the ref room,” she says. “It is definitely nice to have one when visiting females come to play in our rink.”

The new locker room is “something to be proud of,” she says.

“It’s a very nice locker room; they did an excellent job on it,” says Brennan, who was active in pushing for the addition. “Bob worked really, really hard to have that put in. It took a few years but he was really instrumental in making sure that happened for us.”

Now, the rink can fully feel like the “home away from home” that it has come to be for Brennan and so many others, she says. “I consider everybody there family.”

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