That may be a lofty goal, but Sandra Elmore, Tech's director of physical education, said there are good reasons why the school should shoot for it.
It all began about two years ago, when officials from the whitewater rafting industry approached the school. Elmore
said they wanted something more for their 270,000 to 300,000 customers each year to do in the area, especially those who come from long distances.
"They suggested that we give consideration to developing some similar type extreme sports things here on our campus because we're within 45 minutes to an hour of most of the companies in southern West Virginia," she
said."We were trying to respond to the legislators' intent that higher education do more to help local industry develop businesses and things like that."
In addition, extreme sports facilities would help the school serve the surrounding community better by providing a wider range of sports activities, Elmore
said, especially in West Virginia, where obesity and its related diseases are more of a problem than in other states.
Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, who jointly recommended $10,000 in funding for the skateboard park with Sen.
not aware of a problem with skateboarders tearing up local parking lots.Tech already has begun converting a former tennis court to a skateboard park by putting in one ramp that has been getting a lot of use.
The school wants $35,000 in Budget Digest money to put in more ramps and some pipes and perhaps redo the surface and another $15,000 for equipment for disadvantaged young people and other things.
Tech just finished building a climbing wall in the Baisi Athletic Center
said so many people showed up for its dedication on Monday that the hours of the open house had to be extended to give everyone a chance to participate.
The school also plans to develop 2.34 miles of mountain biking trails on the hill behind the campus. Elmore
has submitted a $100,000 grant proposal to the Division of Highways for help on that.
Other plans include developing a marina on the Kanawha River directly across from Tech with about 30 boat slips and a fuel tank, as well as a camping area.
That would be "a major financial project," Elmore
said, but it fits in with the development of extreme sports because many students are interested in jet skiing.
All those developments would enhance Montgomery's ability to attract more tourists.Elmore figures that getting just 5 percent to 10 percent of the whitewater rafting clients would bring about 15,000 people to town.
"So 15,000 people coming to Montgomery to do things should start some restaurants getting developed, shop that sell T-shirts, those kinds of small business-type things cropping up," she
Tech has already worked extreme sports into its physical education curriculum.
"We're teaching a skateboard class right now and we have an introduction to climbing wall class," Elmore
said."I'm sure if we can get the funding to build our mountain bike trail, we'll also be adding mountain bike riding."
The school is also making preliminary plans to hold an extreme sports summer camp.Elmore
said the hope is to bring in younger students and let them stay in the dorms while they do wall climbing, mountain bike riding and skateboarding.That may help get some of them oriented toward attending college, she
"We're finding that today's generation, they're more interested in things that are extreme," Elmore
said."We still have students interested in our team sports, but for the general program for students majoring in math or engineering or maybe nursing, they tend to have more interest in the skateboarding class, the climbing wall class to get their Physical Education 101 requirement satisfied."