The Department of Athletics and Recreation is definitely an underappreciated and often overlooked part of UR.

Not only do students, staff and alumni complain about not having enough fitness machines, but they also complain about short hours of operation, a scarcity of lockers and recreational space.

If you ask me, all of these are petty annoyances.

Next time you are at Fauver Stadium or at the Goergen Athletic Center, take a good look around you and you?ll understand what I mean.

We are amidst some of the finest athletics facilities at the collegiate level ? including Div. I and Div. II schools. Besides, how many college students can boast having access to such a high quality fitness center for free?

However, as fantastic as the new building is, the phrase ?nothing is perfect? still holds true.

Despite having recently constructed the Goergen Athletic Center, the Department of Athletics and Recreation in turn have fixed an old problem but inherited a new one.

They traded in poor quality for poor operations.

Over the last few weeks, with the fickle Rochester winter refusing to depart, varsity spring sports have been shut out of practice and competitive space.

It is April and the baseball, softball, women?s lacrosse and men?s and women?s track teams have had a total of over twelve of their meets and games postponed or canceled.

Fauver Stadium ? which houses both outdoor track teams and women?s lacrosse, and the baseball diamond, have been inundated with wet snow since spring break.

Despite having plows occasionally on the field, the snow remains a huge hindrance. If the plow clears the infield, the snow is on the track and vice versa.

Players and coaches have even chipped in with the snow removal process, trading in lifting for shoveling. But the bottom line is, there is just no place to dump the stuff.

In addition, since only one indoor training facility exists ? the Field House ? the coaches have no other option but to schedule extreme practice hours to prepare for the season.

The coaches have also explored non-UR practice spaces in an attempt to compromise with not only other varsity sports, but with the club and intramural teams as well.

As a result, I notice that players and coaches become increasingly frustrated, having to practice as early as six in the morning to as late as one or two at night.

Aside from getting in

practice time, the coaches are also worrying about complying with the student athletes? academic schedules and making sure that their players are students first and athletes second. For an average of about 25 people on the team, that juggling act is a taxing task.

Don?t get me wrong. I am not asking for a brand new ?Jacket-Dome? ? thats just too big of a miracle, although it would be nice.

However, I do propose that the UR administration work with Director of Athletics and Recreation George VanderZwaag, on seriously examining this issue.

Trust me ? I understand the administration is not a weather god and Rochester is not going to behave like Florida anytime soon. I also understand that life is all about compromising, adjusting and simply dealing with problems.

But deep down in my heart, I know that we can improve this process and this frustrating situation.

The solution is not simple. It would probably include more money for maintainence and facilities, as well as structuring a better protocol to respond to snow situations.

But a solution is overdue. The university should recognize there are a number of coaches and athletes who dedicate a good amount of time outside of a regular 9-5 day or a three-hour practice to improve their game.

They also invest a great amount of heart in performing the best for their sport.

As much as drills and conditioning might improve an athlete?s skills, there is no better way to learn than hitting and throwing that ball out on the diamond itself or running in the actual track.

We constantly whine about apathy and lack of athletic excitement but we are ignoring the Yellowjackets ? the root of UR?s pride and spirit.

The school has taken a step in the right direction by dramatically improving its athletic facilities with a first-rate multipurpose recreational center and for that, I am sure all are thankful.

Now it is time for the next step ? to learn how to run it and to run it well.

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