Practice time at a premium as Smith Center renovations start

With renovations to the Smith Center underway, both varsity and club sports are being squeezed by the resulting space constraints.

Coaches on the building’s second level have moved to the Mount Vernon Campus to avoid jackhammering and other distractions. Some, like head baseball coach, Steve Mrowka, move back and forth between Mount Vernon and the Smith Center, where much of the team’s supplies are stored, director of athletics Jack Kvancz said. While most coaches are eventually going to be on Mount Vernon permanently, there has been a transition period.

“We have to do our thing and the construction people have to do theirs,” Kvancz said. “We understand the building is being renovated so we have to make it work as best we can. That’s why we had to move the coaches out.”

Work on the pool in the Smith Center is not scheduled to begin for another few weeks, after the end of the water polo and swim and dive season.

“Thankfully, it’s not affecting us much right now,” water polo coach Scott Reed said. “But once they start work on the locker rooms in a month, it’ll mean that the kids will have to wait to get back to their rooms to get showered and changed.”

Reed added that he expects the team to hold practices at the Health and Wellness Center during the offseason.

Compared to many club teams, however, the varsity teams have little to complain about. The auxiliary gym, which provided crucial practice space for a number of teams, has been rendered unusable as the construction staff has set up its headquarters in the area. As a result, the women’s club lacrosse team has not been able to practice much at all this season.

“Since it’s dark out, normally we get one or two practices a week inside the Smith Center in the winter. But since the construction began, we haven’t gotten any space there,” senior captain Carolyn Schintzius said.

The team has a tournament scheduled next weekend and was able to get in some practice time on the Mount Vernon field next week to prepare, but Schintzius isn’t sure it is enough.

“It’s really frustrating,” Schintzius said. “As a club sport our practice time wasn’t all that much to begin with, but at least it was something.”

Other club teams have been put in similar situations. With a lack of available space, the men’s club lacrosse team has yet to hold a practice this semester. The gym on the Mount Vernon Campus has also been closed off to accommodate equipment and personnel from the Smith Center, making even less space available for teams to practice and train.

Senior men’s club lacrosse captain Ricker Rollins said his team was offered space at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, but was informed they couldn’t practice with lacrosse balls.

“We’ve got a tournament coming up, too,” Rollins said. “Not having had any practice is going to hurt a lot.”

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