Muscatine Magazine, Spring 2022

Page 1

ISSN 2475-7128 Spring 2022

Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry


UnityPoint Health – Trinity Muscatine is a

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Editor’s Corner

Spring is Always Special in Iowa In this issue Weed Park. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Programming for All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Business Spotlight: Raymond. . . . . . . 10 GMCCI Gift Card. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Sun & Strength at the Y. . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Art Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Mini Pitch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 The Lab. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

On the Cover The historic log cabin, once part of the original Weed Park Zoo, now stands within the zoo garden. Photo by local photographer Mark Washburn.

Muscatine MAGAZINE Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry 100 W. 2nd St. • Muscatine, Iowa 52761-4027 563-263-8895 Muscatine Magazine is published quarterly by: Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry 100 W. 2nd St. • Muscatine, Iowa 52761-4027 Email: chamber@muscatine.com ISSN 2475-7128

Those first warm days feel so freeing when we leave the heavy jackets and boots behind and head outside in t-shirts and sandals. There is nothing else quite like it! It also feels great to really enjoy the outdoors without layer upon layer!

Rebecca Paulsen, Editor of Muscatine Magazine

This issue of Muscatine Magazine has a light recreational theme and touches on the history of our beautiful Weed Park, the soccer mini-pitch, the outdoor workout station at the Y, and the newest athletic facility, the LAB, located inside the Muscatine Mall. There are a lot of

Weed Park Zoo Garden fun ways to enjoy Muscatine on nice days! I hope these stories inspire you to get out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather and make the most of these great Muscatine amenities!

— Rebecca Paulsen, Editor

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Editor: Rebecca Paulsen, GMCCI Creative Director: Mike Shield, Shield Design Contributors: P. M. Cantrell, Virginia Cooper, Jennifer Howell, Jessica Hubbard, Rebecca Paulsen,Tina Roth, Mike Shield For advertising info: Contact Rebecca Paulsen at (563) 263-8895 or rpaulsen@muscatine.com Muscatine Magazine is a quarterly publication focused on Muscatine, Iowa, and the surrounding area. The publisher reserves the right to refuse and/or edit any materials submitted for publication. Published articles and advertising do not constitute endorsement. ©2022

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Entrance to Weed Park – post card, 1938

WEED PARK By Jennifer Howell & Virginia Cooper

James Weed moved to Bloomington, now Muscatine, in 1839. He was qualified to practice both medicine and dentistry but his true love was horticulture. On May 12, 1899, pioneer horticulturalist James Weed and his wife Mary, deeded 63 acres of their farmland to the City of Muscatine and the Muscatine Park and Floral Association for use as a park. The deed cost $1 and required the city to lease the land to the Muscatine Park and Floral Association, with the Weeds receiving $200 annually for the lease. The Muscatine Park and 2 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022

Floral Association was incorporated on June 13, 1899. The lease was paid for with proceeds from fundraisers and the Association’s membership dues. The association was the forerunner to the Muscatine Park Commission. The park became a popular gathering spot for Muscatine residents and remains so today. James & Mary Weed


CLUBHOUSE The Weed Park clubhouse was a popular choice for social events from 1906 to 1930. The clubhouse was two stories and boasted seven rooms, a full kitchen and an 11 foot wide veranda. The building was dedicated on September 27, 1906. On June 15, 1930, the clubhouse caught fire and it was decided not to rebuild the structure. Instead a memorial rose garden was planted in its place. The rose garden at Weed Park was an accredited show garden with “All-American Rose Selections”, a nonprofit association created by the American rose industry

dedicated to the introduction and promotion of roses, from 1939 to 2013, while the organization was in existence.

CANNONS The two cannons in Weed Park point across the Mississippi River and are located near the park’s main entrance. The Grand Army of the Republic Ladies Auxiliary was instrumental in raising funds for the mounting of the cannons onto iron bases on concrete slabs c1910. Listed on the

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022 3


Iowa Civil War Monuments website, the 10 inch Rodman guns (cast at Fort Pitt Foundry in 1866 and Fort Seyfert, McManus & Company of Reading, Pennsylvania in 1864) each weighs approximately 15,000 pounds.

ZOO In 1914 within Weed Park, an enclosure was built covering one and threefourths acres, just northeast of the Clubhouse. A shelter was also erected to house the charter members of the Weed Park Zoo - deer, named Bessie and Chip, that arrived at the park after a 4-day journey from Oro Fino, Idaho, as a gift of George Altender. The zoo continued to grow and obtain more animals over the years. Admission was free to the zoo until its last few years. At that time fees ranging from 35 cents to 75 cents were implemented. The zoo closed in 1980 with all of the animals being adopted out.

Besides deer, over the years the zoo housed the popular elephants Dolly and Candy, Sheba the lioness, Bengal tigers, African antelope, ‘honey’ bears, black bears, peacocks, monkeys (including Kim the chimpanzee), mountain goats, small mammals, an alligator pit, and reptile house and many more.

SWIMMING POOL The Weed Park pool and dressing pavilion were dedicated on August 17, 1921. The $20,000 pool measured 50 feet wide by 190 feet long and had a capacity to hold 189,000 gallons of water. Admission at that time was free, and Thursdays were set aside for women only. A diving board and elevated platform were available for the brave of heart to use. Beneath the pavilion

a boiler provided hot water for the showers and furnished enough heat to maintain the temperature of the pool water at 70 degrees or above. Later there was a charge to swim in the pool. This outdated pool was removed and a new Aquatic Center was built with a dedication and opening ceremony on June 2, 2004.

WADING POOL Built in 1920, Weed Park featured a wading pool, located near the middle of the park, where the road branches. Without a filtration system, this pool was closed around 1980.

The Weed Park swimming pool 4 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022


Zeigler’s Concert Band 2002.16 Weed Park views were featured on many souvenir items including like this sterling silver spoon, showing the “Club House” (among other Muscatine views) on the handle.

Young Women’s Orchestra

Garden, 10 tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and the Zoo Garden (in place of the animal zoo).

Today, Weed Park covers a total of 72 acres and is managed and cared for by the Parks & Recreation Department of the City of Muscatine. Among its features are the 3-acre lagoon stocked for fishing, original stone features, a new Aquatic Center, period bandstand, concession stand, multiple picnic shelters, playground equipment, the Rose 1st State Chorus at Annual Muscatine County School Play Day at Weed Park (on the ball diamond), May 1925 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022 5


BANDSTAND One feature of Weed Park that still stands today is the octagonal bandstand, located in the middle of the park. Built in 1925, the bricks for the bandstand were donated by the Muscatine Sand & Gravel Company and were made with a mixture of various colored glass.

LAGOON In 1927, an artificial pond was created on the north side of the park, known as the Weed Park Lagoon. The pond was stocked and had a spillway. The stone lighthouse on the island in the middle of the lagoon was built in 1929 as a home for pond ducks. The stone bridge spanning the center of the pond, was built in 1936. Both stand today. These structures and many others throughout the park and surrounding neighborhood (including stone planters, a goldfish pool, stone birdhouse, bell stand, freestanding fireplace, umbrellashaped picnic shelter, decorative draped stone fencing, etc.), were created by park custodian Herman Muchow. Although not a trained artist, around 1921 he 6 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022

began to transform the park (a grassy expanse with shade trees) with his creations. Over the years, a variety of other structures have graced Weed Park. The structure located south inside the park’s main entrance was originally an old waiting shelter for the local streetcar line. An old bandstand stood near the cannons and a windmill once stood near the old swimming pool.

On June 29, 1998, a powerful thunderstorm swept across Iowa, downing power lines, toppling trees and claiming life in the state. Weed Park was one of the hardest hit areas in Muscatine. Wind gusts reaching 120 miles per hour destroyed nearly 90 of the park’s shade trees. By April of 1999, over 60 new trees had been planted by the city and volunteers, to be enjoyed for generations to come. n


PROGRAMMING FOR ALL AGES! MUSCATINE ART CENTER

Free Kids Classes This spring and summer kids of all ages can enjoy free classes on a variety of subjects. In the Kids Saturday Workshops designed for ages 7-14, kids can celebrate another culture, paint like a famous artist, and more. Celebrate artist Frank Stella on May 14, and celebrate artist Jim Dine on June 18. Back this summer is the Visiting Artist Summer Workshop for Kids, geared towards ages 6-12. Kids can make 3D “creepy crawlers” and more June

Free Family Events In partnership with the Muscatine County Conservation Board, join us to learn about animals with naturalist Michelle Berns! Kids will get to see live animals and hear about animal habitats and habits. Then, make a craft inspired by that animal to take home! Learn about snakes on May 21 and turtles on June 11. On June 10, Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre will present Uncle Rabbit’s Adventures (Las Aventuras de Tio Conejo), a bilingual production featuring live music. This production is

funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine. Then, gather your family and bring some snacks for a Family Picnic on June 24. Families can spread out on the Muscatine Art Center lawn and enjoy calliope music and free ice cream sponsored by Kent Corporation.

June 24

Adult Studio A variety of Adult Studio classes are presented each month. Explore watercolor and more with Vada Baker in Red Barn Studio, and get crafty in the Thursday Night Makerspace with our Program Coordinator Katy. Registrations and class fees required. A free Creative Session workshop is offered on June 9 in collaboration with Living Proof Exhibition. Visit www.muscatineartcenter.org for full details of classes, programs, and events. Call Katy at 563-263-8282 to register.

MUSSER PUBLIC LIBRARY Summer Reading: Beyond the Beaten Path

more. Don’t forget the July 4th Children’s Dress-Up Parade.

Want to read in exotic places? Ride your scooter in a parade? Pet a shark? Do it all this summer during Musser Public Library’s children’s summer reading program!

The program ends with an Earth-Friendly Energy Fair on Saturday, July 30. There will be two parades: people-powered and electric/hybrid vehicles. Then we gather at MPL. Details to follow!

On Saturday, June 4 we bring the “petting tank” from the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. See and touch very small sharks and rays. Other drop-in adventures include Mapping, Animal Meet-and-Greet, Truck Petting Zoo, and MPL-TV If you haven’t yet watched MPL-TV/ Muscatine Power & Water Cable Channel 5, you’re missing more than ever! On screen and on demand, MPL-TV brings your favorite library children’s programming, fresh

takes on local news and history, movies introduced with commentary, and wellness programs offering recipes or exercise. Our list of original programming keeps expanding. Easy ways to access the channel: • F ind us at musserpubliclibrary.org/ library-channel-5-streaming • S can the QR code at right to load the app on your smart TV and follow the

The summer reading program begins Tuesday, May 31. Sign up in person or through the Beanstack program, at musserpubliclibrary.beanstack.org/reader365. directions for Apple or Roku • Watch us on Muscatine Power & Water Cable Channel 5. The first two options allow you to view on-demand content. Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022 7

PHOTO ©CULINARYGEEK.NET

29-July 1. Little artists ages 2-7 will enjoy Mini Masters, an introductory art class held weekly on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons. Each class consists of a story and two art projects, and a different theme offered each month. All kids’ classes are free but advanced registration is required.


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BUSINESS SP TLIGHT

History of Innovation For 100 years, The Raymond Corporation has built a reputation based on innovation, quality and service. We design and build the best lift trucks in the business and back them with technologies and systems that bring our customers’ day-to-day operations to a new level of performance. From our eco-efficient lift trucks and telematics to our warehouse optimization and flexible financing, our big-picture approach and precisely targeted solutions are designed to adapt and grow with our customers’ needs. Our innovations in energy savings, space utilization, ergonomics, manufacturing quality and

fleet optimization — combined with our best-in-class products and services — work together to increase efficiency and lower costs throughout material handling operations.

Like many businesses with long histories – Raymond is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year – the story of our Muscatine facility is the story of several companies.

• In 1950, HON Industries, known then as Home-O-Nize, partnered with Bell Aircraft Corp. to offer the Prime Mover gasoline-powered material handler that could be equipped with a platform, bucket or snow plow. After Prime Mover became a whole line of

10 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022

Our History in Muscatine We have been a proud part of the Muscatine community since opening our plant under the Raymond name in 2000. This plant manufactures the best lift trucks and material handling equipment in the business and provides job and career opportunities to the Muscatine community for years to come. Musca-

tine makes sense in part because it’s centrally located in the country and close to Interstate 80. We employ a team of skilled and talented people from the community who have helped make us a world-recognized leader in our industry. Raymond is a company with the strong values of innovation, quality and service and a steady commitment to the place where we live and work. These values have helped us create a thoughtful and insightful culture, and we continue to strive for excellence in every aspect of our work and community.

warehousing equipment, it became a separate company in Muscatine. • In 1988, Europe’s leading provider of warehousing equipment, BT Industries AB of Sweden, bought the company, creating BT-Prime Mover.


“We’ve worked hard at our Muscatine facility to spotlight culture through many initiatives, which have trickled down and impacted all our manufacturing initiatives, including workplace well-being, quality, delivery, and cost savings, among others,” said Geof Bissell, director of operations for Raymond in Muscatine. “This focus on our culture empowers associates at all levels to feel ownership in their work by ensuring everyone can speak up to improve processes, which helps foster a better sense of teamwork.” Our culture — like our business — is shaped by our people. We pride ourselves on doing everything to the best of our abilities while enjoying what we do and who we do it with. In short, we take our work seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. We recognize achievements and milestones. We celebrate successes. And we come to work every day with a commitment to each other and to the guiding principles of the company.

Dedication to Continuous Improvement As we continue to build on our 100-year history of innovation, we are focused on our continuous improvement to create solutions that help our customers address the challenges they’ve faced as well as prepare them for the future. From our first innovations with the pallet jack and double-faced wooden pallet to more recent innovations — like our Virtual Reality Simulator, which offers a more efficient way to train new operators, or the iWAREHOUSE® Fleet and Warehouse Optimization System, which offers greater insights through data to manage fleets and operate more

• BT Industries acquired The Raymond Corporation of Greene, N.Y., in 1997. Raymond had provided electrical materials handling equipment since 1922. • In 2000, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd. of Japan bought BT. Now

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At Raymond, our employees have always been a major part of what has helped us become a leader and innovator over the past 100 years. Come join the Raymond team in Muscatine! n

the company is part of the Toyota Industries Corporation. • Today, Raymond’s Muscatine facility manufactures thousands of Toyota, Raymond and Lift-Rite brand pallet trucks annually. Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022 11


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Muscatine Y’s Outdoor Gym Opens for 2nd Season By Tina Roth People looking to put in a satisfying strength workout at the Muscatine Community Y may want to add one more thing to their gym bag – sunblock. With the addition of the outdoor gym area there is another option for completing your workouts. The brainchild of the Muscatine YMCA executive director, Bret Olson, the outdoor facility debuted last June and remained in operation until early November. He anticipates plenty of active users in the gym’s second season.

“Younger people really love being outside,” he noted. “They are just more willing to work out in varying temperatures.” The outdoor gym has provided more value to Y members by transitioning an worn, little-used basketball court into a state-of-theart space. The installation of fencing, field turf and lighting along with a drinking fountain, bench and trash receptacles, was all it took to create a home for the $30,000 Hammer Strength unit.

Olson had had the idea in the back of his head for some time after noting such outdoor gyms when he visited perpetually sunny California. Not deterred by Iowa climate, he felt such a facility could still have a place at the Muscatine Y. The arrival of the COVID 19 pandemic fast tracked the project.

“Who doesn’t want to be outside on a beautiful Iowa day?” he said. “Our goal is to get a good eight months use out of it.” Olson also believes it has been instrumental in encouraging more young people to visit the Y, as high school and college-age members were the largest users of the gym, in addition to attracting and retaining members.

“People really love the battle ropes and flipping tires,” commented Olson. The small detail of our extreme Iowa winters has been a no issue. The equipment was simply packed away in the unit which remained outdoors – dormant and waiting for spring and the gym enthusiasts to return. “You just shut the door with all the equipment inside, and it is an airtight compartment,” explained Olson, who noted that a few of the inflatable components were stored inside during the severely cold months. “Hammer Strength’s number one customer is the military,” he stressed. “If it survives the test for them – they drop this unit into remote locations in all climate types – I think it will survive in Iowa.”

“COVID hit and really changed the comfort level and patterns of how our members were utilizing the Y,” explained Olson. While the restrictions and reservations of the pandemic have eased, Olson is confident the outdoor space will continue to be a popular option.

Olson noted that the indoor workout areas can at times became very crowded and the outdoor area has alleviated some of the space crunch. The outdoor gym has also allowed the Y to add some workout options that were just not practical indoors because of their size and/or space requirements.

“It was actually very easy and cost effective for us to do as we had a space with walls on three sides and already concreted,” said Olson. The self-contained outdoor fitness station includes a variety of strength and cardio equipment and work out options, including medicine and wall balls, kettlebells, resistance bands, and Olympic bars and weights. Additionally, three Olympic stations are attached to the unit.

“It really is a beautiful space,” he added. “It sets us apart, too. We are the first Y in Iowa with a permanent space offered for an outdoor gym.” As they prepare for the unit’s second season, the Y will be considering feedback from the public and anticipates adding to the work out repertoire. “It is just one more opportunity to change up your work outs,” Olson concluded. n

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022 15


Serving for a Century. Planning for the Next. As we prepare to celebrate 100 years as Muscatine’s reliable, affordable energy provider, MPW is taking bold action to make our power supply more flexible and sustainable while reducing CO2 by 65%!

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The benefits are in the balance. 16 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022


The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Details about programs and exhibitions are posted on muscatineartcenter.org. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free of charge.

May 26 - August 21, 2022

Where Children Sleep:

Photographs by James Mollison In this revealing series of photographs, James Mollison invites us into the diverse stories of children in many different countries and circumstances. Each studio-style portrait is accompanied by a detailed study of the child’s “bedroom,” which can range from elaborate sanctuaries to the barest spaces set aside for sleep. The photographs and their related didactic materials convey the story of a universal childhood, full of insecurity, hope, pain, comfort, and doubt. Economic inequality, children’s rights, and how we are defined by our possessions and

formed by our circumstances are some of the complex social, Prena, age 14, typological, and Kathmandu, Nepal cultural issues that resonate in Mollison’s work. The project, in all its diversity, conveys the simple truth that all children, whether from a first- or third-world economy need to be nurtured and protected. As the very concept of sleep and personal space conveys, “Where Children Sleep” is, above all else, a portrait of vulnerability. n

“Where Children Sleep: Photographs by James Mollison” is organized by Curatorial Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.

June 2 – September 11, 2022

The Sanctuary of the Sun: Seasons and Time by William Havlicek Meet artist William Havlicek during the June 2nd reception from 5 to 6 p.m. This extensive series of paintings now exceeds 520 variations based on the theme of the lifesustaining power of the sun and the response of the earth to its warmth and generative powers. The paintings were inspired by Psalm 19 and symbolize inner growth, poetic and spiritual aspirations that parallel actions in the external world. Havlicek grew up in Cedar Rapids and graduated from the University of Iowa. While he now lives in California, his roots are in Iowa. n

Sanctuary of the Sun #486

Sanctuary of the Sun #57 Muscatine Magazine • Winter Spring 2022 17


By Jessica Hubbard

Trending in the sports world, mini-pitch is making its way to the forefront in Muscatine. The mini-pitch initiative is an innovative way for most anyone to participate in soccer thus encouraging positive, healthy activities for youth and adults in the community. Allowing for the opportunity to revitalize old sports courts, and unused hard surfaces, Musco Lighting developed the MiniPitch System™ Modular Sports Solution, a system that can be installed in a variety of places. Currently located at Musser Park, the Muscatine mini-pitch is adjacent to the skate park, and open for drop-ins and rentals. Working together for more than 20 years, Musco and the U.S. Soccer Foundation wanted to create a safe and inclusive space for youth to gather and participate in a community activity. Eduardo Zamarripa, Soccer Marketing Manager at Musco says, “Soccer has a

18 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022

multitude of benefits. Not only do youth learn about teamwork and camaraderie while playing soccer, they also become engaged with other kids and learn quick decision making skills while participating in a team sport.” The Mini-Pitch System™ is constructed from galvanized steel with ample LED lighting, creating durable, maintenance-free, family-friendly spaces in communities all over the world. “Anyone is welcome to drop in on a soccer game and feel like part of a team.” Zamarripa says, “It’s been incredible to see the growth of the Mini-Pitch System™ and rewarding to collaborate with the U.S Soccer Foundation.” Partnering with Musco, the city of Muscatine Parks and Rec Department

is managing the mini-pitch field. Currently, drop ins are free of charge and there is an on-site kiosk available for reference for when those drop in hours occur. There is a $15 fee to reserve and rent the facility. Hours of use are from 5a.m. to 11p.m. An added bonus is the free lighting system available for evening hour use of the facility. n


Learn more! For more information on Muscatine’s mini-pitch facility, visit the City of Muscatine Parks and Rec Department online at muscatineiowa.gov/25/Parks-Recreation. For more information on Musco’s innovative system, e-mail Eduardo Zamarripa, Musco Soccer Marketing Manager at eduardo.tamezzamarripa@musco.com.

Muscatine Magazine • Fall 20191919 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022


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By P.M. Cantrell 22 Muscatine Magazine • Fall 2019 22 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022


“They Will Win.” If You Build It,

That’s not Kevin Costner, but it does come from a local teacher/coach with a vision. Grant Pippert, Muscatine High School Social Studies teacher and head baseball coach for four years has many reasons behind his creation of The LAB or Literally Athletic Building, located in the Muscatine Mall’s former JCPenney location. “The educator in me appreciates the science, technology, and analytics in building better athletes,” Pippert says. In fact area baseball and softball players are able to regularly track such skills as speed and agility, bat exit velocity, hitting distance, pitching spin rate, and pitching velocity at The LAB. Pippert touts the ability to look at the data weekly and monthly as a way that student athletes can check their growth. While building skills is important, Pippert admits he has a selfish reason behind his data driven sports facility, “I want to see more wins.” The inspiration behind The Lab was a podcast featuring the story of retired decorated University of Iowa assistant coach Reese Morgan. Morgan, like Pippert, graduated from Benton Community High School in Keystone, IA. Before UI, Morgan took Iowa City West’s three year losing streak and coached the football players to a state championship within two years. Another accolade

accredited to Morgan is his ability to get West their own football stadium. Previously, the team shared with Iowa City High. Morgan’s philosophy was that the improvements on the field translated to improvements in the classroom and Pippert agrees. He says that attendance, ACT scores, and college readiness also improves when athletes feel a sense of accomplishment in their sport. Indoor baseball/softball facilities are not a new concept, but before now only the Muscatine athletes willing to drive to the Quad Cities and pay a fee have been able to benefit, perpetuating the “pay to play” environment. “It didn’t take long for me to coach and live here to see a huge need for an indoor facility for our HS baseball and softball programs,” Pippert says. “Having the ability to share the space with the youth in our community has been an added bonus. After going through an entire year of coaching our program it was clear we would not be able to compete unless we had a location to put in the work during adverse weather days.”

High school athletes who use the facility also assist coaches with the youth players, paying it forward, which Pippert expects to pay off big time in both the short and long run. MHS Softball coach Steve Hopkins agrees and says he was excited to hear that an indoor facility was coming to town. He says his softball players are already seeing results. “The LAB has given the softball program a place that allows us to work on every aspect of hitting. We can do tee work, front toss, machine work and live hitting. The LAB has several cages that allows us to have many girls working at the same time so we can be efficient with our workouts. The greatest benefit of the LAB is the hitting technology (hit-trax). Hit-Trax documents exit velocity, launch angle and many other metrics that give immediate feedback on what the hitter is doing. This data can be compiled after every hitting session for years.” He adds the new environment not only helps hitters learn what pitches they struggle with, but also helps catchers and pitchers. Ysabel Lerma, MHS sophomore softball player, agrees. She says she noticed hitting improvements very quickly. — Continued on next page

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check how hard he throws and his spin rate. He says significant improvements are to be expected. “We now have a place to play and get better while a lot of other teams are sitting at home.”

Continued from previous page — “I was hitting upper 50s and lower 60s at the end of the last season. My max exit velocity is now 76 (miles per hour off the bat).” Lerma, among other softball and baseball players, helps area youth improve their skills as well. She estimates that she volunteers about eight hours a week. MHS sophomore softball player Natalie Thompson says volunteering with the youth softball players makes sense. “It helps me socially and I have a little sister so I can work with attitude.” Thompson believes all of this extra work for the young players will give them the advantage they need when entering high school. Abby Gutierrez, age 8, of Muscatine, says the extra attention helps her to focus more and makes her a better player.

24 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2022

The LABs technology lets players track their results, sometimes in a unique way. Keegan McAtee, sophomore, recorded a homerun at the simulated Minute Maid park, where the Houston Astros play. He credits the indoor practice for his 96 mph exit velocity and hits as far as 382 feet. Pippert says he has a few players who’ve hit Wrigley Field home runs as well. Ethan Cantrell, senior MHS catcher, struggled to hit above an 89 velocity when the facility opened and now he’s consistently hitting 94. He is able to use Hit Trax to improve his stance as well. “I noticed I was putting too much weight on my front foot when swinging because of the Hit Trax camera,” Cantrell, who has since hit home runs at both the simulated Wrigley and Kauffman (KC Royals) stadiums, said. Pitcher and third baseman, Temo Perales, freshman but entering his second year playing for the Muskies, uses the Rapsoda machine to

Pippert says the next phase for The LAB is to remodel the current space to include locker rooms and a parent seating area, but his bigger goals include a dome in the mall’s rear parking lot with indoor basketball, volleyball, and basketball. All of this comes at a price and Pippert has relied on the kindness of area donors to fund the creation of the indoor facility. “I was actually driving around looking for existing structures and was speaking with realtors. One particular location the realtor asked what I was planning on using the space for and he really loved the idea for our community and suggested I speak with Rebbecca Howe. She graciously connected me with Jim Howe and Jim and I began to discuss the positive impacts something like this could have for our community. The Howe Foundation was gracious enough to believe in our vision to donate initially to help gather some data with a consultant. Jim also connected me with some amazing people with HNI and the HNI Foundation: Lindsay McCullough, Donna Mead and Jeff Loringer have been fantastic supporters and contributed greatly. The Muscatine Mall has also been very helpful and Musco Lighting helped provide us with some funding to replace our lighting. ” Those wishing to contribute to future phases of the project can reach out to Pippert at 720212-9545 or literallyathleticbuilding@ gmail.com. n


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