As a student, Mark Buttitta ’74 defended Colgate football’s line of scrimmage. As an alumnus, he still noted the passing of summer by counting off the weeks until practices would start at his alma mater.
Buttitta died in 2002 after battling a rare cancer. On October 14, 2011, the Colgate community honored his loyalty and his family’s generosity by officially dedicating the Mark P. Buttitta ’74 Varsity Weight Room in Huntington Gymnasium.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure,” said his wife, Susan McNally Brakeley ’76, P’08. “We were determined to preserve the treasure — to keep his memory alive and vibrant.”
Brakeley and her daughters, Jackie, Maddie ’08, and Julia, did so by making leadership gifts that opened the weight room as well as the Mark P. Buttitta ’74 Strength Training Center in the new Trudy Fitness Center.
Alumni, friends, and student-athletes were on-hand for the weight room opening, which was properly scheduled for homecoming weekend. “If you were to go to Notre Dame, USC, or Michigan State, you wouldn’t find a better facility — it doesn’t exist,” said Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Gabe Harrington.
While pointing out all that the weight room has to offer, Harrington highlighted something that’s missing: functioning clocks. Why? “Time doesn’t matter here; time is right now,” he said. Harrington uses the hours with his student-athletes to help them focus on the present moment.
Addressing the Buttitta family, President Jeffrey Herbst noted, “Your enduring contribution will not only help our athletes do better on the field, but also to become disciplined — a skill that will stay with them long after their playing days are done.”
The Buttitta Varsity Weight Room is located in the former Wm. Brian Little Fitness Center, which many alumni still remember as a swimming pool. The transformation was a thorough one according to Head Football Coach Dick Biddle. “This is a structured weight room. It’s not all smoke and mirrors. You still have to go out and play, but this gives us a chance to play on a national level,” said Biddle.
The room also provides the platform for rehabilitating injured players, keeping healthy players injury-free, and recruiting new Raiders into the Colgate community.
“We want you not only to strengthen your bodies here, but also to build lasting relationships with your teammates,” said Buttitta’s daughter Jackie. “We want you to cherish these moments and seize the opportunities that are here for you so that you’re ready for whatever adventures lay ahead when you leave Colgate.”