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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Practice space limited for recreational clubs

Intramural volleyball teams practice in Carver’s upstairs C Gym. // Photo by Matthew Tangeman

By Brooke Wilson

Several recreational clubs on campus have spoken out about an ongoing struggle to reserve space in the newly-renovated Sam Carver Gymnasium.

Priority for practice space in Carver Gym is given to Western’s Athletics Department over club sports and Associated Students clubs, causing both to move between Carver Gym and the Wade King Recreation Center, according to Western’s wrestling team president Nathan Swanson-Dinsmore.

A recurring issue is last minute practice cancellations. According to Swanson-Dinsmore, 20 percent of the scheduled 70 practice sessions over the course of the wrestling team’s competitive season were cancelled or temporarily moved elsewhere.

That means wrestling club members are not permitted to practice in Carver Gym facilities about 15 times during the competitive season between fall and winter quarter, Swanson-Dinsmore said.

These actions are done with authorization from the Athletics Department. Swanson-Dinsmore said he anticipates that judo club will encounter a similar dilemma acquiring accommodations for space and equipment storage, despite not being a fully-established club yet.

“Athletics does not contact any of the clubs directly in any way,” Swanson-Dinsmore said. “[The department] works with the Administrator for Sports Clubs Caitlin Sommers, and Associated Students Program Director Jennifer Cook to inform us of the schedule.”

Other student-organized athletic groups at Western are no stranger to scheduling complications.

Fencing club secretary Kyle McCaffery had difficulty coordinating arrangements for practices.

“We ended up talking to six different people before we finally figured out the right person,” McCaffery said.

While Steve Brummel, associate athletic director for Facilities and Operations, may preside over booking the gym, McCaffery explained that Sommers leads the charge for managing time and space allotted to clubs.

Each academic quarter, clubs are asked to submit practice requests. Sommers said that these divisions on campus aim to provide adequate time and space for each club.

Before renovations wrapped up at Carver Gym, fencing club members would practice in the Rec Center fitness studio, wrestling booked space at Sehome High School and borrowed mats. Women’s volleyball club scheduled practices at 6 a.m. in the Rec Center and men’s volleyball also utilized the Sehome High School gymnasium. Additionally, Sommers said that the external facilities come with a high rental cost.

According to Brummel, the Campus Recreation department has been allocated specific times in Carver Gym to divide amongst student organizations. Typically folks from Campus Recreation are permitted to reserve space in the evenings during the week and on weekends. An exception would be additional sporting events or if any practices through the Athletics Department ran late.

With an attempt to book the facility for earlier routine meetings during 2018-19, McCaffery said that practices for the cheerleading squad were instead assigned the time frame in consideration for the fencing club amidst negotiations with Sommers.

After finally securing both a location and regular time to practice, McCaffery said the club received specific dates that would be cancelled due to sporting events hosted by the Athletics Department.

Last Sunday, Nov. 18, the fencing club competed against University of British Columbia in Canada but could only practice once in the two weeks leading up to the tournament.

In addition to routine practices, locating permanent storage space for the training mats has been rather challenging for Swanson-Dinsmore.

“With the growth of our club, using only four of our seven mats would be dangerous due to issues involving space and possible collisions,” Swanson-Dinsmore said. “It’s a problem when clubs that are attempting to be competitive do not have consistent access to practice spaces.”

Due to the large amount of safety equipment required for training, McCaffery explained that the fencing club isn’t able to change locations on such short notice when the gym has been reserved.

“Even if we could, our equipment is stored in a closet within the gym which we aren’t able to access on days we can’t practice,” McCaffrey said.

Brummel said that Campus Recreation has designated areas in Carver to set aside equipment, as does Athletics, Health and Human Development, Health and more.

“There is always a shortage of storage and Carver is no exception,” Brummel said.

Feeling that his concerns are not being properly addressed, McCaffery said his frustration mainly deals with how the university has been handling student athletics in Carver Gym.

“Anytime there is any event which has ticket sales, all other sport teams are cancelled in the gym,” McCaffery said.

Due to the sheer number of clubs requesting space and the limited hours available in each facility, intramurals and club sports are scheduled first. Any remaining availability will be offered to AS recreational clubs, Sommers said.

“Campus Recreation and the Sport Clubs Office work very hard to make scheduling as equitable as possible,” Sommers said.

Currently, the Athletics Department has not discussed any plans moving forward to resolve the scheduling complications and other logistical issues addressed.

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