The most famous alumnus of Chicago’s Whitney Young Magnet High School wasn’t known as a student athlete, in fact she didn’t play any sport, and was known more as a good student before she graduated in 1981.
Fast forward 38 years and that graduate, former First Lady Michelle Obama, is being honored with a new athletic complex being named for her at the school on the city’s West Side, according to NBC Chicago.
In a video message to students, Obama told them what her former school meant to her path after graduation.
“Whitney Young has played such a foundational role in my life,” she said. “It’s where I first started to branch outside my neighborhood and see the possibilities that lay right in front of me.”
Although Michelle acknowledged that she “never played a sport at Whitney Young. My jersey’s not in any glass case,” she said in the video that the $4.3 million Michelle Obama Athletic Complex will be a great space not just for the school, but the entire Chicago community.
“This is a facility for everybody,” Obama said. “For athletes and non-athletes. For weekend warriors and fitness fanatics. For every student, every parent, every community member.”
The complex features football, lacrosse and soccer fields, as well as a track, softball and baseball diamonds, batting cages, and spectator areas.
Chris Cassidy, athletic director for Whitney Young, said the complex is aptly named since Michelle Obama put physical fitness as a top initiative as first lady.
“Her mission when she was first lady was all about fitness and keeping kids fit,” Cassidy said, according to NBC Chicago.
Cassidy said the students can now run around the track instead of using the city streets and sidewalks for exercise. “This complex is not just for our athletic teams. All our P.E. classes can use it.”
Obama learned about the complex from Whitney Young’s administration last year while she was in Chicago for a book signing of her bestseller, Becoming.