The pathway to success: students’ views on new athletic construction around campus

     Within the next year, Westminster will receive updated locker rooms under Alfred Thompson Stadium, a renovated and enlarged Campbell Hall, and a revamped Kent Field tennis court and parking lot area. While new renovations offer exciting upgrades to the campus in the coming years, construction also has drawbacks affecting nearly all of the student body, especially student athletes.

     With the upcoming construction of a parking deck within the parking lot near Adams Gate, known as “Senior Lot” to the upper school students, upperclassmen were assigned new parking spots for the 2019-2020 school year. The juniors now park on one half of Kent Field, while the seniors rotate between the second half of Kent Field and the Turner Gym parking lot. To create enough spots for both the junior and senior classes, the Back Tennis Courts were removed and paved over, cutting the tennis court space on the campus in half. Senior tennis captain John Guerry expressed the effect of the loss of the back tennis courts on the teams.

     “Obviously, without the Back Tennis Courts, we are going to have less space and time to practice and play matches,” Guerry said, “So, unfortunately, we aren’t going to be able to take nearly as many kids on the tennis team this year. The teams are getting cut down to 18 players, with only one tennis team, rather than a JV and Varsity squad.”

     Even with the reduced team sizes, matches and practices will still be a challenge to schedule.

     “I mean, even with the 18 kids per team, that’s 36 combined with the boys and girls,” Guerry said. “Practices are probably going to be shortened, and I don’t think we’ll have nearly as many home matches as we did last year.”

     Sophomore Ann Wright Guerry, a member of the girls tennis team, also voiced her concerns on the reduced teams and court availability.

     “Yeah, it makes me kind of sad,” said Guerry. “I think everything about tennis is awesome, and I’m just sad that some people won’t get to have that Westminster Tennis experience that I had last year and hopefully for the next three years. If all goes according to plan, maybe our teams will be back to normal size next year after they finish that parking deck.”

     However, even more teams are affected by the construction in and around Turner Gym. All of the sports that play in Alfred Thompson Stadium, including football, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, and boys’ and girls’ soccer, will take advantage of the new stadium locker rooms that are being installed beneath the home bleachers of the stadium. Junior Aidan Henry, a kicker on the varsity boys’ football team and a defender on the varsity boys’ soccer team, stated his excitement about the new spaces.

     “Yeah, I think the new locker rooms are going to be really cool,” said Henry. “I’m really excited for next year when I get to use them in both the fall and the spring. While the Wildcat Walk for football is a pretty sweet tradition that will most likely be continued in some form,  I think the convenience of stadium locker rooms will be worth it in the long run. Maybe it will be like those new LSU locker rooms.”

     While the new locker rooms won’t be as advanced as Louisiana State’s twenty-eight million dollar locker room renovation, the stadium lockers should provide more convenience and space for field athletes.

      The final construction involving athletic spaces is in Turner Gym itself, as parts of the Auxiliary Gym and the Higgins Natatorium are being refinished and renovated. Peter Bernot, a senior and swim team captain, shared his thoughts on the new renovations.

      “It’s weird having the pool empty for so long,” said Bernot. “It just doesn’t look right. But, hopefully, they’ll get it done come October. That’s when the season starts and when it actually matters. I think it’ll be a nice change for the team as a whole, just working in a little different of an environment. I think it’ll help us get better. As they say, the path to success is always under construction. That’s what the signs say, right?”

     Bernot refers to the slogan written across the chain-link fences surrounding the construction site of Campbell Hall and the new Hawkins Hall. While these signs aim to make a pun and provide an inspirational message for the students who pass by them on a daily basis, they also fittingly represent an athlete’s path to achievement and success. Athletes constantly work to perfect their skills, fine tuning the smallest details and creating mini “construction sites” within their craft. The space in which athletes conduct this construction and practice is essential to success and the perfection of these skills. While these construction sites may cause temporary setbacks, they will hopefully improve resources to help Westminster athletes reach their full potential.