Scrambling for a space to play

With Pelham Hall slated to open next year, the Mount Vernon campus may seem like a more attractive place for students to live. But for those on GW’s club sports teams looking to use the campus’ facilities to practice, space and lighting issues on the Vern may make it less appealing.

Kaitlyn Reilly, the captain of the club tennis team, said the mix of intramural teams and individuals often make it difficult to find available space.

“One court is always reserved for GW students and on some weekends intramural tennis has matches. It is necessary to plan ahead and keep in contact with the tennis center while scheduling to make sure there are no issues,” said Reilly, who added that her team is often forced to practice late at night when more courts are available.

But that is not always practical. Each night at 10 p.m. the lights on the Mount Vernon campus tennis courts go out, leaving players in the dark. Director of Real Estate Planning and Project Management Susi Cora said GW does not have the authority to keep the lights on longer since the shut-off time was determined with input from members of the surrounding community, and has been officially set in the 2000 Mount Vernon Campus Plan. Since local opinion did not change when the University began to draft its 2010 plan, Cora says the lights will continue to go off at 10 p.m. for the foreseeable future.

“Just as with the previous plan, the issue of timing of lighting remains a concern and therefore this same limit on hours of athletic lighting will remain,” Cora said.

Even when the lights are on, however, some players are still dissatisfied.

“It is only enough to be able to see and not enough to play a sport like lacrosse,” said junior Becca Simon, who is the president of the women’s club lacrosse team.

The lighting issue aside, field space remains the top point of contention. Jennifer Perry, president of the women’s club soccer team, said that her team is given one official time slot to practice outside each week in contrast to varsity teams that receive priority use of the fields.

“[Practice time] can be taken away at any time if any varsity team decides it’d like it instead. We get one practice slot per week, and the men get one on another day. So we both split the field on these two days so we can have two outdoor practice slots,” Perry said in an e-mail.

For these teams, the lack of consistently available space combined with the insufficient lighting can make practices difficult, if not impossible, to schedule.

Perry said the problem is emblematic of the differential treatment that, in her view, club and varsity teams receive. For her, making club teams a greater priority would help the situation.

“My entire team and I find it maddening that we often travel to the Vern for a mere hour of practice time that can be revoked by varsity in an instant,” Perry said. “We are an organized, dedicated team and we believe that we deserve more resources.”

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