Zach Thomann, Assistant Sports Editor
When the dome opened its doors in 2015, the Utica campus became a focal point for numerous track events during the winter season. The construction of the dome did not only benefit student-athletes, but also created two custodian positions.
Keneth Smith has been affiliated with Utica College for over 30 years. He loves driving a floor machine around the indoor track at a steady three miles-per-hour. His co-worker, Rich Colwait likes to call the machinery “the dome’s zamboni.” The process takes around 20 minutes to complete and Smith has been doing this daily for two years.
“The floor machine cleans up any dirt and muck that gets stuck to the track,” Smith said. “It needs to be done regularly so athletes don’t slip and fall.”
Colwait also goes through a process of cleaning on a daily basis. He is often seen scrubbing the dirt out of the bleachers that are in constant use. The cleaning and preparation during the week leads up to the big events on the weekend.
There is far more than cleaning to prepare for track events. Head Coach, Eric Parker leads his team of 130 student-athletes to piece together the necessities of each event. The process takes over an hour to construct and then an hour to take down.
“You would think with over 100 people that it wouldn’t take long,” Parker said. “But there is a process to getting the events ready. There are many things that can’t be done until other events are put together first.”
When the process is over and the events begin, Smith and Colwiat sit back and watch. Smith looks around the track. He takes in the atmosphere while Colwait watches his favorite event, pole-vaulting.
“This is why I love this job,” Colwait said. “The things some athletes can do are amazing.”
Over 600 athletes fill the dome on any given Saturday. The custodians wait for the moment when there is a spill or if someone makes a mess. After the events, they pick up any mess left behind.
“The coaches do a good job policing their area,” Parker said. “We try to clean up our messes to help the custodians out.”
Smith and Colwait love their jobs and what they do, but not all tasks are as glorious as others. Before the dome was erected, Smith worked in the dorms. He loathed the days when he had to clean up after hundreds of students. The dome was a savior to Smith. He is at peace while operating his floor machine each day leaving a soapy residue after each lap around the track.
The janitors work together to maintain the multi-million dollar facility. They are part of the faculty at the dome. Other staff members keep tabs on how they are doing and respect the efforts to keep things clean. It’s a team effort to run the dome and Smith and Colwait are proud to be part of it.
“We are here to help out every athlete that walks through the dome doors,” Smith said.