The dome collapse and its impact on sports teams

Zach Thomann, Assistant Sports Editor

 

After the news of the Todd & Jen Hutton Sports & Recreation Center collapsing on the Utica College campus, spring sport teams have been scrambling to find other places to practice. With snow still on the ground, the dome was the primary location for many teams like baseball and track.

Other schools in the area have offered to help Utica through this tough time. Athletic Directors from MVCC and Hamilton College have given Utica gym time in their own indoor facilities. Utica Athletic Director David Fontaine has organized a schedule for teams to travel on a bus to other schools.

“The coaching staff has been great and understanding throughout this whole process,” Fontaine said.

Fontaine believes that the track team has been affected the most in the past two weeks because of the number of athletes on the team and the fact that the coaches’ offices were located in the dome. The coaching staff has temporarily been moved upstairs of the athletic center between football and field hockey. Fontaine is hopeful that the staff will be back to their offices in the fall.

With the amount of athletes on the track team, Utica takes multiple buses to meets. Now that the team has to take a bus to practices, Utica’s transportation system has been busy. If athletes can get past cramming into a bus everyday, they also have to deal with the irregular gym times. MVCC has been available when the gym is not in use and Utica students are out of class, but that means practicing as early as 5:30 a.m., and as late as 9:00 p.m.

The baseball team has also struggled to cope with its new arrangements. Before the dome collapsed, members of the team would use the facility as long as they pleased practicing sometimes for three hours. Now, the baseball team practices at the Accelerate Sports Complex for two hours before another group of people have to take the field.

Assistant baseball coach Christopher Podlucky is hopeful that the snow will melt soon and the team can practice outside. He sees this as an inconvenience and appreciates what the dome did for the program.

“Not having the dome makes you realize how nice it was,” Podlucky said.

Before the dome was built, the baseball team practiced in the gym at the athletic center, but assistant coach Adam Pexton believes the team would not benefit from practicing in it anymore.

We have more guys on the roster than we used to,” Pexton said. “We might be better off not practicing at all than playing in the gym.”

The baseball team has been carpooling and taking a shuttle to Accelerate for the past two weeks, but it hasn’t stopped any progression at practice.

“We still work on everything at practice,” Podlucky said. “The format might be different than before, but we are getting something out of each practice.”

The team also has a batting cage in the basement of the athletic center that has seen a lot of action lately.

As for the future events scheduled to be in the dome, Fontaine has contacted a list of people that have rented out the facility. He has been busy but keeps a positive outlook on the situation.

“You never want to see something like this happen,” Fontaine said. “I’m just thankful that this happened during break and nobody was in the dome when it went down.”

Once the weather gets warmer, sports teams will be outside and the practice schedules will go back to normal.

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