It?s April, and it?s still sno-wing. Granted, this is Rochester so to some degree it?s to be ex-pected, but this is getting ridiculous.
As a member of the women?s lacrosse team, I spent last Thursday afternoon alongside 20 of my teammates shoveling the turf in an effort to play one
of the seven games that have been postponed in the past two weeks.
Two years ago, as a freshman, I found myself doing the same thing ? swearing it would never happen again.
Since then, I?ve seen a revolution in athletics at UR. The school has pumped millions of dollars into renovating our athletic facilities into one of the best in the nation.
$14 million and a year of construction transformed the decrepit Zornow Complex into the stunning Goergen Athletic Center.
Hajim gym and its state-of-the-art fitness equipment are paralleled only by their surroundings. New locker rooms, offices, training facilities, aerobic studios, squash and racquetball courts accompany the new-and-improved Louis Alexander Palestra and pool.
The improvements don?t stop there.
Outdoor tennis courts, a new track and $1.7 million Astroturf field complete the picture-perfect scene.
As a freshman, these changes seemed implausible ? and yet today they are a reality.
Even poor URbee ? the old mascot who looked more like a fuzzy caterpillar than a yellowjacket ? got a tune-up and became a new buff bee in a cape and go-go boots.
The athletic environment at our school is undeniably changing. It?s administration, led by Director of Athletics and Recreation George VanderZwaag, has successfully begun to build school spirit.
Despite these changes, I once again find myself wondering why I still have a shovel in my hands instead of a lacrosse stick.
It may be $1.7 million better than it was in 1999, but the turf is still covered in snow.
And I realized for the first time, the seemingly simple task of plowing the turf to get ready for practice and games is not as straight-forward as it may seem.
Desperate to play, I volunteered to shovel along with the team? a seemingly practical solution after the university deemed it inappropriate to plow.
One way or another we were determined to do everything in our power to play our home opener. The fact is simple ? our best wasn?t enough.
21 girls and a handful of plastic shovels cannot solve a problem that goes deeper than the need for a grounds crew and the proper equipment to maintain the university?s newest prize.
The weather in Rochester is harsh, and this year?s winter is admittedly freakish, but our frustration with the athletic department goes beyond the
snow. In fact, our frustration goes beyond the athletic department itself.
The university?s administration supported the updating of the turf during the renovation, but has not provided individuals in the athletic department with adequate resources to ensure its usage after the project was completed.
The ?university? is comprised of a mysterious and complex hierarchy whose inefficiencies have become clear in the problems of maintaining the turf.
The primary problem is a communication gap between the athletic department and the higher levels of administration.
A seemingly simple concept like plowing the turf involves more facets than one could ever hope to understand.
The most alarming oversight is that the athletic administration is not delegated sufficient authority to make appropriate changes to maintain the facility properly.
Year after year, UR promotes an image of a positive environment that supports the student athlete.
In reality, the academic and athletic realms remain two entirely different spheres.
The facilities may have improved, but the attitude remains largely the same.
UR excels at maintaining a prestigious academic reputation, but can do more to enhance its competitiveness as an institution by increasing its support for the athletic department.
It?s clear to me that the athletic administration does care about promoting the best interest of its student athletes.
The past few days have led me to recognize the efforts of the athletic administration to support athletes and listen to their concerns.
Associate Athletic Director Cindy Cohen spent over an hour listening to a group from my team vent our frustrations, and VanderZwaag himself volunteered to help shovel the turf.
Yet, this spirit does not seem to be met by higher levels of the
As they should be, academics are undeniably the first priority of this institution.
Academics, however, only constitute a fraction of a full
college education. Over one third of UR?s undergraduate population participate in athletics at some level ? a?vibrant residential community? at this school.
Although my immediate concern is the maintanence of the turf, the issue has highlighted inefficiencies in the university?s administration.
The prominence of UR?s athletics has grown remarkably in the past few years, but the spirit of our motto ?always better? continues to demand more. I hope that the university will revise its policies and take action to back its assertion that athletics are an important part of this school.
Either way, as spring approaches, I consider my shovel officially retired and I hope to remember my sticks this season and not the shovel.