Tight quarters for Kenyon’s varsity teams just got tighter. Over the summer, college and Kenyon Athletics administrators decided to transfer the men’s cross country and tennis teams’ locker room to the football team. Football now has three locker rooms in the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC).
Two weeks ago, the College completed renovations to the visiting swim locker room to allow cross country and tennis to use it for the fall season, but players on the teams are frustrated by the relocation.
“It’s certainly not positive,” Tristan Kaye ’17, a member of the men’s tennis team, said regarding the players’ opinion on the move. “We’ve been told the football team has expanded significantly. It’s annoying for us that because they expanded, we’re the ones that bear the brunt of that. It’s not positive by any means.”
Director of Athletics, Fitness and Recreation Peter Smith; Assistant Athletic Director Justin Newell and Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 decided this summer to reassign the locker room to football because of the increased size of the incoming football roster. They chose the cross country and tennis locker room for the switch because it is adjacent to football’s two other locker rooms.
At the time of the decision, the football team expected to have 80 players on its roster in the fall. The two locker rooms already dedicated to football have just 65 lockers combined.
The KAC cost $70 million to build and open in January 2006, but 10 years later, its 260,000 square feet may not be enough.
“It’s just the way the building was designed,” Newell said. “It was designed when we had about 40 football players total. Expectations have changed over 10 years.”
The cross country and tennis teams’ previous locker room and the newly renovated one have “comparable” dimensions, according to Newell, but Kaye disagrees.
“It might be slightly bigger than half the size, but it’s much narrower,” he said. “It’s tough just for people to walk.”
Kaye called the switch an “inconvenience,” but he does not foresee an impact on the tennis team’s performance. “But that’s also just from a tennis perspective,” he said. “Cross country, this is the bulk of their season.”
Head Cross Country Coach Duane Gomez, Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Scott Thielke and Men’s Cross Country Captain Eric Thornton ’18 declined to comment until meetings with athletic administrators take place next week.
The players’ annoyance is a symptom of a larger problem at the KAC when it comes to varsity locker rooms. Ten locker rooms are reserved for varsity athletics: five for women’s teams and five for men’s. Golf has no dedicated locker room and instead uses an officials’ locker room. The newly renovated locker room brings the total to 12, but space is still tight. “I don’t believe any of the teams are real comfortable right now,” Newell said.
The lack of locker rooms also means spring season teams, like baseball, may not have a locker room for fall conditioning. “We are one of the few teams that get a locker room all year round,” Kaye said of the tennis team. “I live with three baseball players. They have morning lifts at 8 a.m., and they have to schlep their stuff everyday back and forth.”
Kenyon plans to address the KAC’s shortage of locker rooms in the Kenyon Athletics Master Plan. In the Sept. 8 issue, the Collegian reported in “Protecting our Turf” that architects from the GUND Partnership, run by Graham Gund ’63 H’81, met with the College to develop a Master Plan to improve Kenyon’s athletic fields. Newell said the Master Plan also aims to expand the availability of locker rooms for varsity teams.
“The idea for the Kenyon Athletics Master Plan is to find locker room spaces that are more permanent for all the teams and will be appropriately sized for the rosters that we are expecting,” Newell said.
For the near future, the locker room layout seems set, restricted by a 10-year-old building short on space.
“I don’t foresee any new construction or anything like that happening in the immediate future,” Newell said. “If I were to estimate, this would be the same situation next year.”