“It far exceeds my expectations,” said Waynesburg University’s former men’s basketball coach and director of athletics for 34 years, Rudy Marisa about the opening of Rudy’s Place, an arcade-style hangout for students directly above The Nest. “Little did I know that someday I’d be a part of something like this.”
What was once an on-campus house at 84 Wayne Street has been transformed into a retreat for students honoring Rudy Marisa. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting for Rudy’s Place started at 10 a.m. on Homecoming Saturday and was open to students and alumni alike.
“The Nest looks a little bit different than about a year ago,” Ken Barnhart, class of 2021 said. “The dingy house is now very much upgraded! It feels like I never left and it’s my first time here, it’s a little bit surreal.”
The vision for The Nest and Rudy’s Place all started when Denny Ellis, class of 1974, set out to honor his mentor.
“One of his ball players donated $120,000 to the college to help students because he said he gained so much through his experience with Rudy,” Rudy’s wife Jackie Marisa said.
Rudy said he remembers being a young teenager who admired Waynesburg’s basketball players and that coaching at Waynesburg meant he woke up everyday doing something he loved.
“I haven’t seen him [Denny Ellis] for ages to tell you the truth, but I certainly thank him,” Rudy said. “Not everybody throws that much money my way, or the college’s way.”
Rudy’s son Kent Marisa said he was flattered and excited to be a part of this endowment from the moment the university approached him, citing the support of university President Douglas Lee, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and University Relations Stacey Brodak, contractor for the project Tim Frye, as well as the whole team at Direct Results for the strong opening.
“I feel fantastic! To market it and design it all knowing that we could honor my dad with everything we put up was really emotional and powerful and satisfying for me,” Kent said. “Our biggest hope is that students love it… we’re really happy about it.”
Rudy’s daughter-in-law and creative mind behind the project, Pam Marisa, said this project also exceeded her expectations.
“When we first got it [assignment for The Nest] I just had to put my blinders on and say just go with your vision, go with your vision,” Pam explained.
Rudy’s Place is furnished with numerous games including pinball machines, basketball, chess, foosball, and more. They are also waiting for further shipments to arrive with more arcade-style games.
Pam is hoping to get a feel for hours that are best for students, but is starting with keeping Rudy’s Place open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. She is also tossing around the idea of opening earlier and having coffee and breakfast available for students.
“I really hope the students take advantage of it and we just want everyone to have fun when they’re on campus!”