All athletes who have the dream of playing basketball at the collegiate level probably have similar visions about what that experience will be. A long season full of competitive practices, bonding with teammates on and off of the court, playing under the bright lights, and a sell-out crowd at every home game. When I came to Lesley as a freshman, I can definitely say that a lot of what I envisioned was true. I enjoyed getting to know my teammates on and off of the court through the grind of the season, and being recognized as a student athlete. But something was still missing.
For the past two years the Lesley Basketball program has hosted its games at Buckingham Brown & Nichols; a highly competitive private high school in Cambridge. BB&N is where we had every one of our practices, and it has hosted every one of our home games for the past two seasons. The facilities inside of BB&N are top notch. It has a state of the art weight room, full length football field, two full length basketball courts and even a full length soccer field where the Lesley soccer teams play. The Lesley basketball program occupies both basketball courts for practice time during the week when games are not scheduled. One court for the girls program and one court for the guys. Typically, BB&N is reliable about keeping the courts reserved for us on a nightly basis but sometimes they have school events that need to be hosted, and the Lesley basketball program is expected to either scramble and find a different gym for practice that day, or just not have it at all. Some people might not see it as a big deal, but when you put the effort in on a daily basis that my teammates and I do, then you would feel differently. Every practice counts in order to stay competitive in a very competitive conference.
Last season, our home record was only 3-5. Though our team suffered a number of significant injuries throughout the season, our final record was well below the mark we set. In fact, there were times where we felt an identity crisis in many ways. I feel that one of the most significant contributors to that identity crisis is that we don’t have a gym to call our own. It’s tough to ask any athlete to go out and play in a foreign environment, especially with a young team like ours. One thing that helped us, but we need more of it, is fan support. We could always count on a few loyal fans and parents to come support us, but we always need more. Athletes feed off the energy that the spectators bring to the games, both good and bad. Frankly, we did not have enough of either, and I think that this had some impact on our performance.
One of the first things that our coach told all of us in order to get us to come to Lesley was potential construction of a new gymnasium; it would be a place that we could call our own. But it didn’t happen; and at times, it feels that athletics is just low on the school’s priorities. I understand that many of the athletic programs here at Lesley are fairly new, but investing more in them would only benefit everyone. It would help us bring in better recruits, attract more fans, and most of all, it would bring in revenue. My teammates have approached our athletic directors with the proposition of getting a new gym but they give us the same answer, although in different ways. They say, “BB&N fits our needs well” or “Where else would we go?”
I don’t doubt that the AD’s are doing their best, and I know that constructing a gym is a major expense. I assume they are not the ones who will make the decision; but it doesn’t seem like it is even on anyone’s radar for the near future. That is disappointing. Athletics bring a lot to Lesley and give us a more balanced image. I don’t see how building the athletes a gym could hurt any of the parties involved. In fact, I believe it could only help.