Athletic Center and Dome reopening updates

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Photo: Sidney Domroes

Robert Stevens, Special Assignment Reporter

Staying fit has been a question and concern for some at Utica College as students, staff, and faculty are still feeling the impact of the Harold T. Clark Athletic Center and Todd & Jen Hutton Sports and Recreation Center remaining closed weeks into the new semester.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently granted a glimpse of hope in the pandemic release guidelines referring to gyms and athletic facilities opening up. One of which implemented that these facilities would be able to open at 30% maximum capacity.

Utica College Athletic Director David Fontaine has been one of the enforcers in trying to reopen the facilities, but remains hesitant to ensure safety for all in following the guidelines.

“We do have a plan but have to incorporate all guidelines that were released on Aug. 17,” Fontaine said. “We do not have a specific date for reopening at this time but we continue to work toward satisfying all guidelines.”

As the semester rolls on, students have become advocates in opening the facilities as soon as possible. Brendan Horton, ROTC Senior at Utica College, was one of those advocates stating that he and his fellow students are more than willing to follow any guidelines the school places. 

“I absolutely will follow any guidelines the school puts in place and make sure other students are too,” Horton said. “If we have to create an environment that inputs time slots that requires students to wipe down afterwards, I will be one of the people right back in the gym doing just that.”

With the guidelines that are being placed by state officials, the closing of major recruitment tools like athletic facilities has forced certain schools to fear a drop in their incoming classes and a rise in transfer rates. Utica College is not one of those schools as they remain confident that the numbers will actually increase rather than drop.

“This situation is not unique to Utica College,” Fontaine said. “I believe prospective students and their families understand that this is a temporary situation and appreciate that the college has health and safety in the front of its minds.”

Some students understand the need to wait, but are getting anxious to get back into the gym and having an outlet for a stressful school year. Horton believes that the urgency is there for the guidelines to be met to reopen these facilities.

“I think keeping these facilities closed is creating more of a risk for the school,” Horton said. “Students are going out of their way to get gym memberships where there are places that don’t have as much mitigation as the school. It creates more of a risk to be around someone who tests positive off campus. Also, going to the gym gives students something to do rather than meeting up in groups due to a lack of in person activities.”

Regardless of the perspectives, the athletic facilities remains closed for the time being. With that reality, there is the need for students to get their physical fitness increased to help students receive outlets throughout the school year.

“To stay in shape individuals may consider going for walks, or runs, doing crunches, and doing exercises with one’s own body weight,” Fontaine said. “Also, making good nutrition choices will assist with keeping people fit during this time.  It’s important to remember that if individuals are training with friends they are wearing their mask and practicing social distancing.”


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