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“Turf Wars” Affect Student Athletes

The 2015 Spring Semester signifies an ongoing struggle for space with the various organizations at Lesley University; a collegiate “turf war.”  The various “gangs” here all desire the use of the athletic facility underneath Stebbins Hall. “Stebb,” as it is often referred to, is a multi-purpose athletic facility, equipped with batting cages, a rubber floor surface, and studio-style mirrors. Any collaborative team may use this wonderful space to great effect; however, there is simply not enough room for all of us.

This issue represents a large issue for student athletes here at Lesley; as a member of the Men’s Soccer Team I can personally attest to this conundrum. Though still in its infancy, our program has been quite successful, with an already well respected reputation in our conference. Program founder and former Head Coach Paul Vasconcelos, as well as his former assistant, current Head Coach Jim Costa have established a program that caters to young men seeking an exceptional educational and athletic experience. More than anything we have a group that is passionate about soccer.

If space permits, a group of players head down to Stebb and play futsal (indoor soccer) for two hours, at least 4 days a week, in addition to the two mandatory sessions a week we have at Baldwin Gym during our off-season. We just love to play, plain and simple. All of that competitive fire, passion, and spirit, is present on other teams in the school. Women’s Soccer, fresh off of a three-peat in the NECC, frequents to Stebb for yoga classes and futsal. Not a day goes by where the batting cages aren’t used by either the Baseball team, a program even younger than Men’s Soccer that has already made a name for itself, or Softball, who epitomizes the word “dynasty” with six consecutive NECC titles.

The unfortunate reality is that these NCAA sports have to compete with other school organizations, like Cheerleading, Yoga Classes, and the Dance Team. The studio style mirrors are perfect for these different groups, so it comes as no surprise that they too look to utilize Stebb just as everyone else does. This can affect not only the quality of athletics but these organizations as well. According to junior Bryanna Laughlin, captain of LU Cheer, “Cheer has been forced into situations where we use small rooms that could potentially put us at risk, and hinder our ability to grow and learn as a club. It is hard to retain members when you don’t have the space, and it is hard to get better and achieve more when you can’t try new things because the hanging lights are in the way.”

However, there is a silver lining to this conundrum. Lesley University finds itself in a crucial stage in its development, and because of that this community finds itself embodying its very own mascot.  Though the Lynx is not a large predator, it is cunning, independent, and packs a punch, asserting itself as a powerful presence in the food chain. Lesley University mirrors that, with our development as an institution and a community of diverse people taking Cambridge by storm. With our recent success and high ceiling of potential, the future is enticing.

The opening of the Lunder Arts Center should be a symbol of optimism for not only members of LUCAD, but even us Student Athletes as well. Lesley could enhance its reputation not only in the Northeast, but nationally, drawing students from all over the country and affirming itself as one of the most unique provides of higher education in the nation. With some sports programs struggling for members, it only makes sense that investing in this demographic could be beneficial for the university as a whole. We must be patient and work hard for advancement. For fellow athletes reading this who feel passionate enough about this subject, attend a Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting. It is an opportunity for Student Athletes to voice their thoughts, opinions, and ideas with an end goal of implementing them into action.

My final piece of advice stems from the motto of the University itself- Perissem Ni Perstitissem, Latin for “I Had Perished Had I Not Persisted.” So as I conclude, I simply ask for you to be patient. I guarantee that if we continue to persist, there will be no “perishing”, but rather a golden age of prosperity for Lesley University and us as student athletes.

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Categorised in: Campus News, Editorials and Opinions

13 Responses »

  1. Well written article, as a member of the men’s soccer team I can attest to these struggles, and I agree that something needs to be done about it. I’m glad one of my teammates is taking the first step.

  2. Chris,

    You definitely made some valid points in this article and as a member of the Soccer team as well I understand the limitations that not having our own athletic facilities carry. It is pretty obvious that having our own fields and facilities would benefit student athletes. I think it is also important to think about the positive effects it could have on the Lesley Community as a whole. Between better attendance at sports matches to the area being open to all members of the school allowing them to utilize the space through intramurals, clubs, and group organizations. So while we we discuss this topic I think it is essential that we expand this conversation beyond the walls of student athletes and specific clubs to the greater Lesley Community.

    Also we must understand that this like any project will be a process. Property space in Cambridge is few and far between with high retail values. This barrier to entry only hinders this fight even more but I absolutely agree that we do have to fight for this change. This article is a great stepping stone towards achieving the desired goals and I feel we must start to think what the next move is to make our voices be heard.

    -Spencer

  3. As another member of the men’s soccer team this is a huge issue and very well stated in the article. We have limited space to work with and it affects how we play during the season. It would be a great help to have our own space and would increase the success that not only our soccer team has, but all of the athletic teams because we wouldn’t have to compete for space availability.

    -Walker

  4. As a member of SAAC as well as a member of the baseball team, I completely agree with everything stated in this article. It’s amazing to see someone voice their opinion for the student-athletes, and hopefully this is the start of something amazing.

  5. As an athlete it is extremely frustrating not having adequate athletic facilities to fit the needs of all sports. The basement in Stebbins is not exactly a usable space for all sports, for the most part it is a batting cage or a practice area for dance teams. Which is great for our Baseball and softball teams who are able to practice batting all year long and continue to bring success to Lesley University. Yet there is major restraint to when other sports can practice, basketball and soccer are restricted to their respective seasons with small time slots which they can use Stebbins to practice. It is extremely important as an athletics program that there be facilities that can support all sports.

    Yes Cambridge is crazy expensive, but I am sure that Lesley could scrape together some money and gain similar sponsorship that went towards the Lunder Art Center, to construct or even rent facilities. It will take a long time for this to happen, probably after most of us graduate as student-athletes, but I am sure long after we are gone we will wish success to the next batch of student athletes.

    Anyway great points Chris, hopefully we can have our voice heard as student-athletes for once.

  6. It is relieving, from my perspective as just another individual on the men’s soccer team, to see a teammate, a friend, voice my opinion. I truly believe that this article addresses our challenge thoroughly and respectfully.

    It is tough, I must say, playing soccer in a studio that lacks the space needed and the space availability. It is one of the things here at Lesley University that I am not proud of, but hopefully over time and persistence, our voices are heard, actions are taken, and pride in our university’s athletic department is boosted without a doubt.

  7. Chris really hits some great points in his article. It is important to note that we all see Lesley University as one community. Our school pushes students to speak up for themselves and to stand up for what they believe in. This is exactly what Chris is demonstrating in a respectable and courageous manner. I truly agree with his article and hope that changes can be seen over time. As stated earlier, we are a community here at Lesley and everyone’s voice matters. Thank you Chris.

  8. Chris,
    This was well put. I believe in everything you said. As a dual sport athlete for Lesley University, I know first hand the lack of a place to play and the struggle to practice sport out of season here. We have to fight for a spot to play and sometimes we cant play at all.

    You couldn’t of said it any better Chris.

  9. Chris,
    As a fellow student athlete and SAAC representative I have to say it’s great hearing somebody speak up about athletics. I feel that with the amount of time and dedication we put into our sports we still aren’t taken as seriously as we should and that’s definitely shown in the lack of places to practice in the off season. I’m a member of the womens basketball team and every day is a struggle to try to find a way to play. I for one have never even been in stebbins. When it comes to the turf war womens basketball is definitely losing. Although the space isn’t ideal we could totally use it but unfortunately with the amount of other teams that also need to use the space we never do.

    When it comes to what was stated about teams struggling to get members I think I can definitely relate to that the most with our team suffering from injury we played many games with only 6 players. It’s very difficult to recruit people to play here with them knowing we don’t have a gym or a place of our own to play or practice at and other schools around or in our conference do.

    I love Lesley but I think one of its drawbacks is the lack of support for student athletes and I think this article and the lack of space given for athletes really shows it.

    Thanks for speaking up Chris.

  10. Chris,
    I think you make a lot of good points in your article and I completely agree with what you had to say. I play basketball and softball here at Lesley and I have found a lot of days where we were struggling to find somewhere to practice, or struggling to add members to the team. It is definitely frustrating and I can see it having an impact on athletes and teams.

  11. I couldn’t agree with you more Chris. This lack of facilities is certainly an obstacle for all sports teams here at Lesley. As a sophomore on the baseball team, I have yet to play a game at our “home” field in two seasons. Not only is it tough to be successful when you essentially play home games at the opposing team’s home field or a neutral field, but it eliminates the opportunity for fans to come to our games and support us. Also, last year we had maybe one or two practices on an actual baseball field and this year we have yet to do so. I understand that being in Cambridge makes it difficult to find room for facilities and fields, but it would at least be nice to have places nearby that are actually accessible to us.

  12. Chris,

    The article was well-written and the points made on this salient issue were thorough. I agree that, as an athlete, we are at a loss when it comes to the use of facilities on/off campus. As a NCAA athlete, many of us look to improve and make progress in our sport so that we can continue to be a competitive program as we have been for many years now. It is a shame that our athletes have not been prioritized in a way that they should be, considering that athletes are often the people who represent the school most consistently(with the exception of a few other clubs). But even so, as a member of clubs on campus, receiving funding to grow and expand beyond the domain in which we currently reside often proves to be difficult and a much more difficult process than is necessary at times.

    I hope this article reaches some of the administration and provides food-for-thought, as well as some sort of administrative action.

    Good stuff.

    -Ty

  13. As a potential student-athlete at Lesley Univeristy I take into deep consideration the athletic facilities at any school I visit and so does any other student-athlete hopeful. Even though most of the athletic programs have become successful without great facilities, just imagine what could happen if there was a bigger space of a building just specifically for athletic use. The current endowment at Lesley is $189.8 million. At least use a little bit of that money or remove something on campus that’s not being used (outdoor basketball courts) and build it in that space. Great article though.


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