Once ’Berg football teammates and now lifelong friends and Excelsior brothers, assistant professor Jerry McDonald ’76 and Dr. Steve Brancheau ’75 are permanently linked through the university’s new Exercise Science Lab.
On Saturday, Heidelberg officially dedicated the Steve & Denise Brancheau Exercise Science Lab inside the Saurwein Health & Wellness Center. The Brancheaus, who reside in Greenville, Texas, where Steve has a successful podiatric medicine practice, returned to campus for the ceremony. It was an opportunity to thank them for their generosity and to unveil the new lab.
Jerry, who was instrumental in creating the Exercise Science major which launched last fall, had been looking for space on campus to construct an experiential learning lab to complement coursework when he immediately thought of his Steve.
“With our need for lab equipment and construction, we needed some help,” he said during the dedication. “And an old friend of mine really stepped up.”
Currently, there are about 200 majors between Health Sciences, Sport Management, Athletic Training and Exercise Science, and the majority of them will spend time in the lab. “This lab is really going to get used,” Jerry said. “Dr. Morgan Kocher is already doing testing with athletic teams. So many people are going to benefit. It’s an amazing addition in a very attractive space.”
One of the students already seeing benefits is junior exercise science major and football player Nick Cofer. “This lab gives us the opportunity to expand our knowledge beyond textbooks and Power Points,” Nick said. “Instead of sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture, we can go into the lab and apply what we have just learned to a real-life situation.”
For Steve and Denise, who met on campus 45 years ago, providing funding to construct the lab was a dream come true. “It has been my pleasure to give back some of the things I’ve gained,” Steve said. “Financially is one thing, but spiritually and emotionally, it means so much more.”
The Exercise Science major, which launched last fall with about 20 majors, has grown to 35 this fall. In addition to practicing skills and techniques discussed in class, the lab has another important purpose: giving students an advantage as they prepare for their careers.
“This lab has already deepened my understanding of the topics covered in class, and I believe it is better preparing me and others for our professional lives,” Nick said. “Your investment will greatly enhance our education and our future successes,” he told the Brancheaus.