Southern plans to design proposed recreation building

Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree said the new building would potentially have basketball and multi-purpose courts. For now, students play basketball during rec hours in Moore Field House. 

NEW HAVEN–Eric LaCharity said he couldn’t believe the number of times he mentioned a climbing wall during a conversation about the proposed new recreation center.

It did return “highly popular” on the spring 2013 recreation survey, said LaCharity, assistant director of Student Life. And, he said it would benefit the newer rock climbing club sport that is currently based at a gym in New Haven.

“I feel like I keep talking about a climbing wall,” LaCharity said, laughing.

The rock wall may be uncertain, but a new campus recreation center is much closer to reality, according to LaCharity and Tracy Tyree, vice president for Student Affairs.

While there are currently no specific designs for the proposed building, Tyree said herself and other university staff consulted with architects to get an idea of what can be included in the facility.

“This is really in the concept phase right now,” Tyree said. “The beginning process is to conduct a feasibility study, which does a lot of information gathering with an architect to think about what the interests and demands are.”

According to LaCharity, interest in a dedicated recreation center has been mounting since he was a student at the university from 1999 to 2004. He said his intramural basketball team frequently encountered scheduling problems when trying to practice in Moore Field House and Pelz Gym.

Pelz Gym

Pelz Gym

“The big thing when I was a student was that there wasn’t a lot of time or space to practice,” he said. “We had to practice at the courts in the Brownell parking lot—they weren’t the best, or flat, but we used them everyday.”

Intramural and club sports are currently disadvantaged, LaCharity said. He gave the example of the dance team, which practices on a basketball court when they need a studio space with mirrors.

A dedicated recreation center would cater to the intramural and club sports, and LaCharity said daytime intramural leagues could be possible. The intramural time slot at Moore Field House currently precludes this, since the hours run from 9-11 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Kyjell Tyson, sophomore exercise science major, said intramurals are a good way to play basketball competitively, relieve stress, and just get out of the dorm, but said he is still concerned with the hours.

“They could probably make it a little earlier, so that we don’t have to be out so late, so we can finish our work if we have any,” said Tyson. “It might work better for students who have late classes.”

According to Tyree, the new recreation center would have a bigger focus on individual exercise, much like the current fitness center. There would also be accommodations for group exercise and team sports, including basketball and multi-purpose courts. Tyree said the facility would emphasize student wellness beyond the physical aspect.

“We hope this project,” Tyree said, “when it goes to the next step, will at least include health services, counseling services, and a drug and alcohol resource center.”

It has not been decided yet how students will pay for the recreational center, according to Tyree, though it would likely be included in student fees and not as a paid membership.

Jessica Scibek, assistant director for the Student Center and fitness director, said the addition of a new recreation center would improve the opportunity for healthy activities on campus, instead of having to go elsewhere.

“Students can begin a routine, and have exercise and physical activity as part of their lifestyle,” said Scibek. “Those are skills and habits that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Timothy Troy, one of four students on the recreation center committee, is a line of communication on the project. He said he frequently tells students the status of the facility, as well as receiving their concerns and input.

“The complaints about the fitness center are that it is too small, and somewhat expensive, and that it gets crowded,” Troy said.

One of Troy’s goals, he said, was making sure commuter students benefit from the recreation center, and hopes a new recreation center is an incentive to stay for more than just classes. Troy said he can relay any comment to the committee, but the university and staff who work with him are just as receptive.

“They want your opinion because it is for the students,” Troy said. “Most likely they’ll be a lot of support behind it, because one student isn’t just talking for themselves, they’re talking for multiple people.”


Fitness and diet often top the list of interests at the start of every new year. Journalism students in the fall News Writing course, with Professor Cindy Simoneau, reviewed current and future access to fitness activities, healthy eating and counseling services.

Students who prepared the project are: Hannah Spreckley, project editor; Kathryn Burton, Meghan Cole, Trevon Freeman, Emili Lanno, Xavier Lassiter, Alex Roberts, Jared Silberkleit, Derek Torrellas and Monica Zielinski.

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