James McClendon, Asst. News Editor
Since its’ opening, The Todd and Jen Hutton Sports and Recreation Center has not only been used for Utica College sporting events and practices but it has also been rented out to local high schools for track meets.
With a $ 1.4 million donation from UC alumnus, Tom Clark Jr., the center was built in honor of the hard work and dedication of UC President Dr. Todd Hutton. The dome opened during the fall 2015 semester.
The high school track and field championships for section I and II were held in the Dome on Jan. 29. The event began at 4 pm. and lasted till about 12 am.
“I think it was amazing as far as the experience for the athletes and it is great for our community to be able to have something like this,” John Keating the newly-hired Dome Supervisor said.
Keating also talked about how well the UC community has embraced the idea of sharing the Dome with the outside community.
“I think it’s frustrating if they made the long walk down here,” Keating said. “The students have been very understanding, respectful and receptive to the fact that we are still working out the scheduling kinks.”
Keating talked about setting up an online scheduling system for the dome but encourages students to call down before they head out into the cold to confirm its availability for now.
According to Director of Physical Education and Athletics David Fontaine, in the months of December and January about 90 high schools have used the facilities with a couple thousand people coming through the doors.
The high school track and field meets are unique sporting events that rely on a lot of moving parts in order to run smoothly.
Leone Timing and Results Services do the officiating and timing. This company provides timing and computerized results for road races, cross country and track and field meets.
Another key component to the success of these events has been the extra work and time the UC Track and Field staff have put into setting up the equipment used in these meets.
“I have to say the lion’s share of the work is probably on our track and field personnel,” Fontaine said. “It’s a lot of work and I give them the credit for taking that initiative to not only set up their own track meets but to also set up the local high school track meets.”
This facility has had a profound impact on the Oneida County community in the short time it has been open. The indoor dome is the second air supported structure in North America and has been a welcomed addition to the area.
“If you speak to any local high school they would say they are so appreciative to have something right here in the Mohawk Valley,” Fontaine said.
Fontaine talked about how the setup of the track portion of the dome was very successful thanks to the guidance of former track and field coach Jason Rose and current Head Coach Eric Parker.
The Dome also contains a turf section that will also be available for use by local high schools as long as it does not interfere with Utica College needs. The Todd and Jen Hutton Recreation Center has turned UC into one of the premiere destinations for college and high school athletes in Central New York.
Featured Image: Photo by Rashida Patrick.