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  • Writer's pictureHANNA BABEK & LJ VP LAFIURA

Teams fundraise facility upgrades

Inside of The Track at New Balance located in Boston Landing, a new facility utilized by the indoor track and field team. Photo by Pat Carbone

In recent months, athletics has undergone many changes, making moves to improve the facilities and programs.

New shared team rooms are appearing in the Athletic Center. Upstairs, men’s basketball and soccer currently share a room, along with men’s and women’s volleyball in another room. A shared team room for women’s basketball, soccer, and softball is being set up downstairs.

These rooms will help teams meet before and after practices and games, as well as to go over film.

“I think it’ll give us some more confidence and bring in more recruits seeing that we have these nicer facilities because a lot of our surrounding schools have these amazing, beautiful facilities and the facilities that we do have are great, but just getting more would be awesome,” Sheridan Blaha, a senior guard for the women’s basketball team, said.

The volleyball team room located in the Athletic Center, shared by both the men’s and women’s programs. Photo by Mike Maruk

Teams are in the beginning stages of fundraising for this room, hoping to raise money for TVs and other additions to the space. Volleyball has already added team branding, pictures, and storage for players.

To meet the growing space requirements in the Athletic Center, the athletic ad- ministration has moved to Cushing House. Athletic Director Kristy Walter, Assistant Athletic Director Cait Connolly, Director of Athletic Communications Robert Papazian, and Graduate Assistants Janard Jones and Ray Bruno can be found in the former residence hall next to the sand volleyball court.

“I really enjoy being in that office, it’s just peace and quiet. You can get a lot of stuff done,” Jones said. “It feels good just to have your own space a little bit away from the Athletic Center.”

Tucked away on Woodland Road, Cushing House is now home to the athletic administration. Photo by LJ VP LaFiura

In previous years, the indoor track and field team’s only opportunity to practice on a track was two to three times a week on Brandeis’ indoor track, where there were typically multiple other teams practicing on the track at the same time. Head Coach Ben Biello says with this system, “It’s nearly impossible to get a good practice session in.”

This indoor season, the team has begun practicing at The Track at New Balance in Boston Landing twice a week, while only practicing at Brandeis once. The New Balance facility was completed this past April, and the Lasers are the only team to use the space during their allotted time.

“The team absolutely loves it. They are in awe and so appreciative that we’re able to be in there, even if it’s just ten times this season,” Biello said.

According to Biello, the team is paying just over $5000 for the space. With further fundraising, he hopes to move all activity to The Track at New Balance next season.

While track and field have made off-campus strides, there is still no movement on facility upgrades on-campus.

“As for current facilities on campus…I don’t really see much room for improvement unless we build a new facility,” Biello said.

Walter admits that a new athletic center is on her and the university’s radar. The logistics and cost make that a long-off goal.

“It’s hard to have one indoor space in the winter to accommodate baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s volleyball,” Walter said. “It’s one space to accommodate all those people. And it’s hard to keep up with keeping that clean and scheduling everybody in there.”

When a new athletic center comes to be, the hope is for it to be on campus. “It’s hard to go off campus for everything,” Walter said. “It’s hard to create a community that way.”

There have also been rumors the Lasers will get their own baseball field. According to Walter, the Athletic Department has been “identifying space” for an off-campus field, although no agreements have been made or further steps taken.

“We want to grow the program,” Walter said. “We want to find ways to increase our facilities, this will be a possibility.”

Baseball currently uses Brandeis’ facility for practices and games. This current arrangement can be difficult with weather and schedule disruptions.

“We might have a little bit more control than we do at Brandeis because at Brandeis, we’re kind of second to them. If it rains and they cancel a game, and then they go and schedule a game the next day that cancels our game,” Walter said. “It’s hard to be dependent on somebody else.”

“I think we need somewhere that feels like home. I think it’s a huge competitive advantage to be able to go out to the field eight hours a day as well,” baseball head coach Billy Uberti added. “It would mean everything to the program. I think it would put us right up there with the schools who do have fields, and now there’s no competitive disadvantage there.”


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