Since its founding in 2000, the Madison Community Center (MCC) has been a pillar of connectivity for the city. As a partnership between Madison and Dakota State University, the MCC brings together people of all ages with its large roster of programs and events.
MCC Director Gene Wockenfuss said 2023 will be a big year for the community center as it aims to expand this roster. He added that the MCC is more than simply a place to work out; it’s a place where all members of the community should be able to find something they enjoy.
“We’re a community center, and community is a wide array of activities and programming that we feel we can offer,” Wockenfuss said.
For him, making the MCC feel as welcoming and inclusive as possible is integral to the facility’s success.
To assist with this vision, the MCC recently hired Cody Newbough as an acting recreation director. Wockenfuss said Newbough has been an excellent addition, especially in his collaboration with Group Fitness/Special Events Coordinator April Lund.
The MCC also bolstered its ranks with the hiring of Aquatics Coordinator Alyson Black. In her brief time at the MCC, Black has helped spearhead multiple pool programs, including a teen “glow up” party and the MCC’s new BOGA board class.
Black is also assisting with the MCC’s swimming lessons, which Wockenfuss said are “in high demand.”
“We have a beautiful and very active aquatic center here, and to have a go-to person has been really refreshing for all involved,” he said.
To witness the MCC’s community-driven approach in action, a person just needs to look at the February “family night” event.
“This is huge,” Wockenfuss said.
The event’s goal is to fill the MCC with as many community members as it can, emphasizing the center’s desire to create a fun environment for all ages.
“There’s a lot of games and activities,” Wockenfuss added. “We just pack the gym.”
The pool is open for “family night” as well, ensuring the event highlights the entirety of the MCC’s offerings.
Another example of community outreach is the MCC’s after-school program, which is available on weekdays from 3-6 p.m. for ages 5-12. The program is headed by Youth Service Coordinator Kaylee Winrow and provides children with a safe location to learn social skills, physical activities and creative thinking.
“We’re averaging anywhere between 85 and 90 kids after school every day,” Wockenfuss said.
They also feature a variety of guest speakers as well as field trips to places like the Madison Public Library.
The MCC’s connectivity can also be seen in the ongoing relationship with DSU, which has been a staple of the center since the day it opened. Wockenfuss said that around 90% of DSU students utilize the MCC, whether it be for exercising, swimming or just hanging out.
“We get between 3,000 and 3,500 DSU swipes a month,” Wockenfuss said.
He explained that while these numbers are slightly inflated from repeat visitors, they still showcase the flourishing relationship of the college and the MCC.
Moreover, the MCC has had a few smaller additions that will benefit the facility. One of these is Club Automation, a new software that Wockenfuss said will greatly streamline communication with the center and the rest of Madison.
The MCC also recently began offering nutritional protein supplements for all ages.
“This is geared toward those people who really want to be better prepared for their workout, after their workout, and to make sure their body is being nourished in a positive way,” Wockenfuss explained.
Additionally, Wockenfuss said that Madison’s Parks and Recreation Department asked the MCC to serve as the skate rental host site for the Memorial Park skating rink.
For Wockenfuss, allowing the MCC to grow is among his top priorities, and he believes the center is currently positioned to achieve this goal. Following the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCC spent much of last year in somewhat of a rebuild, yet this is poised to change.
“2022 was the year of resetting and re-establishing our baseline to grow; 2023 will be the year to move forward,” Wockenfuss said.