On campus there is high demand for the athletic facilities, and this has only increased with larger class sizes in recent years. Even with this high demand, intramurals have continued to operate as usual, using all of Mulligan field during soccer, flag-football and softball seasons, as well as two out of three courts in RFC during basketball and volleyball seasons. While intramurals operate as they always have, Gonzaga club sports, as well as pick-up sports, have continuously lost playing time and space.
With higher demand for athletic spaces, namely the courts in the RFC and Mulligan Field, club sports have been greatly affected. Outdoor teams are given only a quarter of Mulligan to use at a time, making it near impossible to scrimmage or practice real game situations. Indoor sports are given practice times early in the morning — a time when students cannot compete and practice at their highest levels and must leave early for classes, meetings and work. Alternatives have been to practice on the weekends, a viable idea, except most tournaments and games occur on those weekends.
The effects go further than club sports. Any student at GU looking to get together with friends to play a game of basketball or use Mulligan for a soccer or football game will often find that there is no space for them either. We all understand the importance of intramurals to GU. They not only give any student the opportunity to play in an organized and often competitive setting, but also are also a great place to make new friends and memories with existing ones. It is unfair to club athletes that we are unable to perform to and compete at our highest level because we are not able to practice to our best ability at our school.
When asked why our practice times are being changed while intramurals are clearly given preference, the answer we are given is there have been too many complaints from students who are not able to play recreational basketball.
We also assume intramurals takes precedence over club sports because of the larger amounts of revenue produced compared to club sports. Yes, students pay to join intramurals and the school sees the profit directly. However, students on club teams are constantly traveling throughout the region and often across the country for games and tournaments. During these times every team knows the importance of representing our team, and our school with pride and respect. We strive to show other players, coaches and spectators the type of students that attend GU by competing intensely but being respectful after games and while together as a team at hotels and meals. While we are not charging a fee that goes directly to GU, we bring and build the university’s reputation wherever we travel.
This may seem like an issue that cannot be easily solved, because in order for one group to have more time and space to play and practice the others will lose that same time and space. But after conversations with students like us at other universities who were faced with the same issue, one solution would be opening the athletic facilities to club sports to practice for just a few times a week.
Without question Division I sports must be prioritized over our own schedules, but we also know that for most of the day the Martin Centre, which houses two courts, sits empty and unused. Those two courts could be used for just two nights a week by club basketball and club volleyball, which would leave the court not used by intramurals open for students to play pick-up basketball with friends.
We do not have the answer to what should be done, and we understand that this is a complicated problem with several mobbing parts. Our hope is to bring the administration to the table so that there can be discussion about the options. Our hope is that the we as student athletes can help to make GU better for athletes coming behind us. Our hope is this letter reaches the right people so that we can work to resolve this dilemma. We look forward to the conversations to come and how we can work together in the future.
'Eleu Akimseu is a senior majoring in business.