Ah yes, spring semester. It is the second half of the year when the sun is hot and the sky is blue; that is, if you live in Florida or somewhere else other than the cold miser’s city: Canton, Ohio.
There is no doubt that the spring semester has its perks with baseball games and track meets. But what about those first few months of blistering winds, whiteout blizzards and below-zero temperatures? That weather surely doesn’t sound tempting for a race or a game.
The winter in Canton, without a doubt, impacts Pioneer spring athletes’ preseason training. From snowy conditions to slick roads, the winter forces Pioneer athletes inside the small, crowded weight room in Osborne Hall.
“The weight lifting area of the wellness center is often very overcrowded,” sophomore cross-country and track and field athlete Emily Tomei said. “It can hardly accommodate more than one sports team. Upstairs, there are often times when all available machines are occupied as well.”
Tomei, who has been a fall and spring athlete since her freshman year, said how they not only are limited by the weather conditions but also by the minimal facilities Pioneer athletics has to offer for their athletes.
“I think I speak for both the athlete and recreational student population when I say that our lack of facilities is frustrating, at the least,” Tomei said. “It’s like a child who’s outgrown their snow boots from the previous year. You can push and prod your way in all you want, but it just doesn’t work out.”
Many other springs athletes such as senior first baseman Matt Anderson and senior softball player Lauren Hershberger shared their thoughts and views about the minimal facilities Malone has to offer for spring athletes.
“Having all athletes workout in that small, confined space in Osborne just doesn’t work,” Anderson said. “With the year-round membership at the HOF (Hall of Fame) I would rather go workout down there instead of fighting the crowds at Malone.”
“Although the facilities at Malone, such as the gym and wellness center, allow us to work on agility and fundamentals of softball in the gym, the ball on the gym floor is an unrealistic advantage to any player,” Hershberger said.
[pullquote]I think I speak for both the athlete and recreational student population when I say that our lack of facilities is frustrating, at the least,” Tomei said. “It’s like a child who’s outgrown their snow boots from the previous year. You can push and prod your way in all you want, but it just doesn’t work out.”[/pullquote]
To beat the crowded rooms of Osborne Hall, the Pioneer baseball, softball and track teams have to constantly find their way to better-quality facilities outside the school’s campus, costing a pretty penny out of the coaches’ and athletes’ pockets.
“Not having a field house with a turf area is tough,” Anderson said. “Without the Hall of Fame fitness center, we would be stuck taking ground balls off the gym floor. But we have to pay for memberships for each person each year.”
“We go up in Akron to Grand Slam,” Hershberger said. “However, we are only reimbursed once throughout the entire two months before season starts ($20) worth. I know I sure as heck don’t want to drive to Akron once a week for that.”
Tomei also shared where her teammates and coaches go when no other obstacle is found to train.
“We have to run every day, so if the weather is not cooperating, we go to the Dome, located about ten minutes from campus in Louisville,” Tomei said.
Going from NAIA to NCAA can be a challenge, and with Pioneer athletics on its way towards the big NCAA, the athletes have in mind some big ideas for the school’s facilities and what they would like to see happen with Pioneer athletics facilities.
“I think a lot of Malone sports have even a harder time finding a facility that will accommodate practice times than we do as distance runners,” Tomei said. “With one gym for all of the sports, intramurals and other activities on campus, I know it can be really difficult to juggle who gets to practice where and when.
“Ideally, I think it would be awesome if Malone had a sports complex with an indoor track, field and more basketball/volleyball courts. It seems like most colleges have activity centers such as these.”
“Malone should build a field house similar to the likes of Akron U,” Anderson said. “That way teams like softball, baseball, cross country, track and many more can have a place to work out and fits their needs. This would eliminate HOF memberships, the unnecessary risks taken at our track and less clutter in the workout facility.”
Despite the harsh obstacles of finding a place to work out, Pioneer spring athletes seem to have found the good in a small, compacted lifting room.
“We make things work the best we can,” Anderson said. “We are blessed to have that turf field Hall of Fame has to offer us, so for us things aren’t all that bad.”
“The most beneficial aspect of it is that we can work on agility and the fundamentals,” Hershberger said.
“I believe that MU athletes have learned that collegiate athletic programs should not be taken for granted,” Tomei said. “Because we don’t have state of the art facilities, we have come to greatly appreciate that which we do have, and we have done a pretty good job so far.”
Pioneer spring athletics will continue the struggle of fighting the crowds of Osborne Hall, but will also hope for a bigger and better change for the future.
Tina Oprean is a staff writer for The Aviso AVW.