Olivia Papp ’23
Last year, plans were established to renovate Ferris Athletic Center by 2023. However, these plans have screeched to a halt as a result of the current circumstances presented to the College by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than continuing with designing and executing this renovation, the College has had to focus its attention on more pressing matters, such as keeping Ferris operating safely for the Trinity community. The staff of Ferris Athletic Center began their planning in early spring, through the summer, and continue to plan now to keep up with the changes of the coronavirus. The Tripod caught up with assistant athletic director for engagement and strategy Karen Shu she explained the extensive planning that has gone into preparing for a unique year like this.
Through doing research and assessing what other colleges and universities were doing, Trinity began to formulate a plan. Shu clarified that the College “had to take literal measurements and move things around to ensure the six-foot distance requirement. We had to configure everything to make it so people could enter. This is why we have one staircase, a one-way entrance, and exit space, and have people coming and going within a forty-five-minute time interval.”
Ferris Athletic Center is home to athletes all across campus, from members of intercollegiate teams to students who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Accordingly, Ferris Athletic Center staff members were faced with the question of how to keep Ferris up and running for the community during such unprecedented times.
Having to adapt to the constantly changing guidelines and protocols involved in navigating the virus, Shu has had the daunting task of creating a controlled environment for students and faculty with little to no experience with this kind of issue:
“None of us have been through a pandemic like this before, so we must think from a comprehensive perspective and be able to adapt to anything. We must have policies in place to make adjustments at any time. Our first priority when we opened Ferris up was to have staff always covering the door and facilities. The next question was how do we integrate sports into Ferris too? We have been able to open more places up in Ferris over time, including the athletic center, the pool, Oosting gym, and now the squash center.”
Throughout the course of the semester, thanks to Shu and other Ferris staff, students and faculty alike have been pleased to see the athletic center up and running.
Jake Armentrout ’22 offered his thoughts on the new environment of Ferris, stating that “overall the new system works well… I’ve worked with what we were given, which is better than it being closed.”
The Ferris Athletic Center is no longer an open access building. As of now, Ferris is maintaining an appointment-based system. Students are required to plan ahead and make an appointment a full day in advance to enter the fitness center, the gym, the squash court, or athletic training. A faculty member or student simply needs to be on the front door access list to be granted access. Anyone can sign up for a time slot.
Shu added that the athletic center is “much more controlled now, and this is so we can track people and know who has been in the building for contact tracing. By having the system set up in this way, we are able to convey necessary information to contact tracers should there be a positive case.”
In order to schedule appointments, students and faculty must plan out their days accordingly. Community members can no longer go to the gym on a whim, which can prove difficult for some. Armentrout added that scheduling appointments, although easy, “is tedious, and many people book way in advance. Going to the gym is definitely a judgment call on the day for a lot of people, so many don’t show up which causes fewer people to use it. For example, the weight area is six people per hour, and it’s usually booked, and 99% of the time it isn’t full, but people can’t walk in.”
These rules and protocols for paying a visit to the Ferris Athletic Center will remain in place for the rest of the semester. Many of these guidelines will continue to develop over the course of the semester as well. The Trinity community can see these developments on the guidelines of the Bantam Sports page. Shu mentioned that there will only be significant changes if the community where to phase into an orange or red level. When the campus is at a green alert level, operations are not impacted as much. Shu added that students can check the Bantam Sports website for new information, and that this platform is a “great way for people to be informed if there are significant changes because it will always be updated there.”
Shu and other staff members at Ferris are making it possible for the community to continue to take advantage of what the Ferris Athletic Center can offer.