The sun beat down on the turf, heating it up to 115 degrees. Double sessions drained bodies mentally and physically. Ice baths chilled athletes to the core. Muscles ached with every step, as waves of teams refueled at Cheney.
However instead of parting ways, each and every team eventually funneled back to International and Reed Hall. Players entered hot, sticky dorm rooms, which were nearly unrecognizable with no decorations and bags of belongings scattered all over the floor. If they were lucky, a shower would be available, despite living on a full floor with athletes who were equally exhausted, sweaty, and drained.
The fall sports teams have produced a combined record of 21-3-1 thus far, yet before those 21 wins, this was their reality, some for as long as 16 days. For the first time, 560 early arrival students, about one-fourth of the student population, lived in temporary housing in either Reed or International, rather than moving into their permanent housing arrangements for the 2018-2019 school year. Of the 330 student-athletes, the majority were not fond of this change.
“I don’t think making us all live together in general is a good idea, but if they’re going to do that, they could at least put us in buildings that have air conditioning or are closer to the athletic fields,” said Shannon Anfuso of the women’s soccer team. “It was so inconvenient to a bunch of athletes, who were already working so hard, and there were literally no benefits for us at all. It was convenient for the school, at the athletes’ expense.”
A task force chaired by David Hall, Director of Campus Recreation and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, with representatives from Athletics, Facilities, Residence Life, and Campus Services was assembled a year ago to discuss a better method for fall early arrival students.
There were a lot more factors than just the incoming fall student athletes. The root of the problem traced back to June, when summer students and those working camps began residing on campus.
“The traditional way we were moving in early arrivals just wasn’t working for Residence Life and Facilities,” said Hall.
“In past years, many halls have been partially filled for the entire summer, so it wasn’t possible for Facilities to make some general repairs that a building should have every two years,” said Kevin Wood, Associate Director of Athletics at Springfield College. “Two of the big reasons for the change were to have spaces ready and cleaned, and to do some maintenance by keeping certain residence halls empty for the entire summer.”
Over the summer, the LCs and Townhouses were occupied by special event groups and conferences, while the Senior Suites were occupied by summer students, making those residence halls unavailable. Additionally, Abbey, Gulick, and Lakeside were closed entirely for water repair projects. Given the available housing, air conditioning and a close location to the athletic facilities was out of the question. International was selected primarily for its size and Reed was identified as its backup.
While repairs were made to certain residence halls, other student-athletes say it’s clear the school did not achieve their second goal of having permanent housing spaces cleaned and ready with the extra preparation time. Senior field hockey player Hannah Boylan listed a number of problems with her Townhouse.
“There was dirt all over the floor, specifically a pile that had been swept up and left right next to the door that had a bunch of pieces of broken glass in it. The stairs were really dirty. Both the bathroom door and Emily’s bedroom door wouldn’t shut. The part to turn on the shower was broken. Our fridge was so stuck shut that it broke when we tried to open it,” explained Boylan. “It looked like no one had been in it since the girls before us left.”
Another reason for the change was in the interest of student-athletes’ safety. With students spread among every residence hall in the past, there were some who found themselves alone in a building, which is a risk-factor in case of an emergent situation.
“Most institutions have realized for the safety and security of their students, they need to have supervision, know where they are, and connect with people,” said Hall.
By having all student-athletes within two residence halls, teammates are able to check on each other. Additionally, security guards and custodians were limited to a small radius of campus, which Hall estimated may have saved the school between $10-$20 thousand. The process also reduced the number of move-in dates from 23 to seven.
Given the significant benefits to Facilities and Residence Life, Hall stated that transition housing has become the new standard. Yet, both he and Wood also acknowledge that there are improvements to be made for next year.
“We do want to make it the best possible experience for student-athletes, so any and all feedback is welcomed, and we will take it under consideration,” said Wood.
The task force will reassemble in October to discuss how the change went this fall, and begin planning future adjustments. Feedback regarding the fall transition housing is encouraged, and may be directed to Hall via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.