Teams Cramped by Construction

By Aleck Silvia Pinto

Construction of the College’s new $47 million squash courts and field house, which began in June, has caused unprecedented disruption to many of the teams and coaches who routinely use this space. The construction, which called for the demolition of “The Bubble,” has left the Athletic Department scrambling to find indoor practice space for sports teams this winter.

Since 2002, the Bubble has offered alternative practice facilities for the Track and Field, Baseball, Tennis, Lacrosse and Frisbee teams as well the squash program’s five home courts. These facilities were meant to last only a few years after initial construction, but the economic downturn of 2008 postponed the construction of a new field house. Now the Athletic Department is faced with the task of finding an interim space for all the displaced teams until the new field house can replace the Bubble.

Director of Athletics Erin Quinn is working with coaches to plan for the winter months on a sport-to-sport basis.

“When we first discussed plans to build the new facilities, it seemed like a logical conclusion that some teams would have to spend a year in flux,” Quinn said. “But now that we’ve arrived at the point of construction, it does not seem like such an easy problem to resolve.”

Quinn noted that the lacrosse and baseball teams would practice outdoors through inclement weather during the winter. Due to the availability of outdoor turf fields, one of which can be lit at night, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will spend the most time outdoors, and when weather is severe, those teams will be allowed into the tightly-booked Nelson Recreation Area.

“Baseball and softball pose a tougher issue because the cold weather can increase the risk of arm injuries that are unique to the sport,” Quinn said.

To accommodate the baseball team in Nelson, Quinn has researched special baseballs and softballs that would not damage the surface of Nelson, and has also considered two temporary batting cages at one end of the building.

The only varsity winter sport to be homeless this winter is Track and Field. Tri-captain Bryan Holtzman ’14 has helped lead planning for practice since last winter season drew to a close.

“We will have to settle with a makeshift track surrounding the perimeter of Nelson,” Holtzman said. “Otherwise we will just have to push our limits on the outdoor track.”

Holtzman likened this upcoming season to high school indoor track programs that commonly make due without any formal facilities except on race day. Along with the temporary track, field athletes will use jumping and pole-vault pits, and throwers will practice with net dividers, that will be installed in Nelson.

“In the end, the pros of the new field house outweigh the cons of this season,” Holtzman said. “Having a top tier indoor track that could possibly host Nationals in the future represents a phenomenal opportunity for the program.”

While Track and Field will share access to Nelson with the Tennis teams, club sports such as Ultimate Frisbee are left out in the cold and will have to fight for any remaining time slots.

“Due to the extra traffic, we will have to struggle for any time when we can practice,” captain Jeff Hetzel ’14 said. “We will most likely have to show up very late on weeknights, and both the men’s and women’s team will have to split the space.”

The Frisbee teams also considered paying for practice in a Shelburne field house, but without official support from the college, fundraising for such an endeavor would pose an issue.

Despite the issues at hand, when completed, the new field house and squash courts will add tremendously to the capacity of the College’s facilities. The new facilities will hold double the number of squash courts and will house a new track while also including an indoor turf facility for a variety of varsity and club sports.

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