Becoming NCAA Division II athletes can have its perks with getting fresh new uniforms and competing against stellar competition. But the real question that everyone is asking is whether or not Pioneer athletics is supplying the right, adequate equipment for its big change.
“The NCAA has approved us for active membership based on our current campus, and doesn’t “require” us to improve anything specifically,” Athletic Director Charlie Grimes said. “But we’ve identified a few smaller projects to continue improving our venues.”
There is no question that the athletic department has made drastic changes in the last few years. From entering into a new division to repairing both the tennis and basketball courts this past summer, Pioneer facilities have slowly made adjustments to its school’s athletic program.
[pullquote]The lack of an indoor track is a shame, as it not only limits our athletes, but also limits the things we can do as a school,” Gee said. “There are so many events we could hold in the winter here at Malone if we only had an indoor track.”[/pullquote]
“The courts were slated to be refinished as part of the routine improvement projects scheduled for all the buildings and facilities on campus,“ Grimes said. “We are always looking for ways to improve our campus—both athletic and general buildings and facilities.”
Facility ratings and improvements
Pioneer facilities have always been a hot topic amongst the students and athletes. If it’s either discussing about the crowded weight room or sharing dreams of a brand new sports complex, the student body has not kept quiet about their ideas and opinions on what Pioneer athletics has to offer.
“Malone is lacking a lot of facilities, while other schools have incredible sports complexes right on their campus, for their athletes and regular students,” junior sports management major Chelsea Perry said. “We have a nice weight room, but it’s small and it’s hard to get a whole team in there at once.”
“Only having one gymnasium limits us in so many ways,” senior track athlete Brad Gee said. “First, that it has to be shared by so many different programs, including our baseball and softball programs. Also, it is almost impossible for a group of regular students to get together and just play some pick-up ball in the winter. “
Through pushing and prodding; students, athletes, and coaches all share the common struggle of finding space and time for their daily work-out and practice routines.
With minimal space and equipment, the student body finds it hard to compete with its top caliber rivals in NCAA Division II.
“In the NCAA and GLIAC, we are competing against more than just athletic talent,” Perry said. “It’s hard to compete with teams that can practice when they need to practice and lift when they need to lift. They already have the upper hand because these opportunities are available to them.”
“I think the biggest problem over all with the facilities on campus is that there isn’t enough room for practice to accommodate all the teams,” assistant cross country coach Dave Gramlich said.
“I would rate many of our facilities as slightly behind the average in Division II,” Grimes said. “But not in any way the worst. There are many facilities that we use here at Malone that are actually much better than the average.”
Future for facilitates
Being tough and honest critics, the Pioneer student body looks forward to what the institution has in store for the future of the campus facilities.
“In order to start to bridge the gap between Malone and the rest of DII, we need a new student rec center with more gyms, bigger weight rooms, a pool and track, a football and baseball field,” Perry said. “We need facilities that make our athletes want to be here and get better. The renovations in the gym are a nice start, but there’s still a long way to go.”
“The lack of an indoor track is a shame, as it not only limits our athletes, but also limits the things we can do as a school,” Gee said. “There are so many events we could hold in the winter here at Malone if we only had an indoor track.”
“I would like to see more gym space, more indoor space such as a field house or a track where people can work out indoors,” Gramlich said. “I also think that would help with recreation, intramural sports, and the community outside of Malone.”
Grimes also mentioned come changeable measures that are in thought process with the institution.
“The goals and plans are only theory right now, as nothing specific has been agreed upon,” Grimes said. “But this is the athletic department’s top priority in all our discussions.
“We want a place for not only athletic teams to practice, but for the entire Malone community to exercise and participate in recreation activities would be an excellent start to grow our enrollment.”
Through controversial conversations and sharing big dreams, Pioneer athletics plans to keep its door open to great ideas and community discussions about the facilities on campus.
“Strategic planning here at Malone (by all staff and faculty) will definitely continue to occur,” Grimes said. ”Continuing the conversation as a whole community is our goal and we all need to agree, and then work together for the attainment of the resources to build.”
Pioneer athletics will continue to keep their eyes peeled and ears open to community conversation and ideas to improving its campus facilities.
Tina Oprean is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.