Recreational sports teams search for home

Recreational sports team members said they still hope to find their field of dreams amid a dearth of space.

“(GW) doesn’t own any fields unless you count the Quad or the Mount Vernon field,” said Aubre Jones, director of Recreational Sports and Fitness Services.

The lack of field space translated to increased student frustration because of the difficulty of playing at convenient times.

“It’s been an absolute fiasco this year,” said Ben Rudolf, president of GW’s rugby club. “Some matches were scheduled as home (games), we would have to reschedule as away.”

The lack of space is difficult because varsity teams get first selection for practice times.

“We often have to borrow fields from the city,” said Patrick Bailey, assistant director of Recreational Sports.

Meredith Ramsey, the president of GW’s field hockey club, started as early as last spring to arrange playing time at the Mount Vernon field.

She said after placing several phone calls and e-mails she stopped trying to find time.

“Basically, I gave up because we never get any (field) time,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said the field hockey team, as well as several other recreational squads, can practice on the fields at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue on a first-come, first-serve basis. But government regulations prohibit them from using any equipment such as goal posts.

“All the fields around here are owned by the National Park Service,” Jones said.

As a result of the lack of field space, the field hockey club played its home games at the University of Maryland at College Park.

“It’s difficult because we have to practice on grass and play on turf,” Jones said.

While the University of Maryland’s fields may bring a short-term solution, scheduling remains a difficulty for the field hockey squad, Ramsey said.

Senior softball captain Rachel Meinecke said her team suffers from the lack of adequate space.

“We’re basically sharing field space with (field hockey) and ultimate frisbee on 23rd and Constitution,” Meinecke said. “(The field) is not very well kept up.”

Though the 23rd and Constitution field allows for practicing, Meinecke said the team usually rents a field near the Ballston Metro station for games.

“We can’t even use the Mount Vernon field, because there is no backstop,” Meinecke said. “People get frustrated because there’s no place to go.”

Despite the lack of space, each captain said the Recreational Sports office tried to help the club teams.

“I know that the University is not being malicious,” Rudolf said. “But I know that we’re also being overlooked.”

Rudolf said the rugby club also has had difficulty scheduling time at the Mount Vernon field.

“The (varsity) soccer team has been practicing at Mount Vernon, and they claim that we tear up the field,” said Rudolf, who added that the varsity teams always have priority.

Jones said the rugby club cannot usually play on the fields at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue because their longer cleats damage the field.

To help the field shortage problem the athletic and recreational departments tried to seek other options.

“The best thing would be if we could talk with the National Park Service and lease fields on a more permanent basis,” said Jones, who added that the park service probably would not want to give GW exclusive space.

Jack Kvancz, GW’s athletic director, said he explored similar options.

“One thing that would help us is when Mount Vernon can be developed further,” Kvancz said. “But will it be the be all and end all? No.”

Kvancz said the department continuously has rented fields in northern Virginia but said it is difficult to find a reliable field because the space is often used by taxpayers in their respective counties.

“Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get a permit,” Kvancz said. “But from a collegiate standpoint, this is unacceptable. You have to know that you’re going to be playing.”

Recreational Sports’ Bailey agreed and said the University will continue to search for solutions.

“If there was another option, we’d act on it,” Bailey said. “We usually can find something somewhere, but it’s a struggle.”

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