Expanded open gym times arrive for all students

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • February 10, 2016

For those with the itch to take to the hardwood floor and test out their shot on the same sacred ground Stephen Curry pranced on in December, there’s good news from the athletics department: Expanded open gym times are on the horizon.

According to the department’s director of media relations, Matt Ulrich, the addition of more free hours in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym has been a long-term goal that’s now feasible.

“We’ve always wanted to offer more open gym times; it’s just taken some time to get all the schedules worked out,” Ulrich said. “We’ve been getting more requests than we’ve ever had for students wanting open gym time. This is a way that we can open the gym a little bit more.”

Ulrich said one full-time member of the athletics staff or a CPR-certified student must be on-hand for all open gym hours provided. He said the increased availability of some coaches and the presence of more students with proper medical training has allowed for the upcoming change.

The Lions website has also debuted a new system that will automatically send fans updates on mobile platforms, including the iPhone and Microsoft Outlook calendars. Ulrich said he hopes students will use the feature to stay up to date not only on the open gym times, but also on upcoming Division III contests.

“In addition to being on the [website] or social media, it’s one extra way that people can stay involved and stay in the loop with what’s going on,” Ulrich said.

Ulrich added that the gym is “technically” available to interested parties from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during the week, but practices and games often complicate the picture. He suggested that those who hope to sneak in during the day could make the trip to the second lower level of Piano Row to check on the its status with a staffer. Time can also be reserved in advance by contacting a member of the athletics administration.

Often, groups, rather than individual students, make up the majority of inquiries, according to Ulrich. Ulrich said organizations like quidditch, which are not officially recognized by the college, have used the time to practice previously. He said the largest crowd is typically a group of pickup basketball players, sometimes numbering upwards of 30 participants.

“It was kind of hit or miss last semester,” Ulrich said. “Now that we’ve gotten it to a more routine thing, I think they’re thrilled with it.”

One organizer of the pickup games is senior visual and media arts major Chasen Parker. Parker said while he will likely keep the contests on a similar schedule, the expansion of existing open gym procedures will allow other students to be more physically involved.

“Obviously, the sports teams come first because that’s what they’re here for, but we just like playing because we love it,” Parker said. “Any extra time we can get is always good.”

Parker said he often shot hoops with fellow senior Dylan Roast, who is now studying on Emerson’s Los Angeles campus. Roast said while he won’t be returning to the Boston campus before graduation, he’s pleased to see the process becoming more formalized than it had been.

“What was holding us back in the past was that not everyone could trust the open gym schedule that was there,” Roast, a visual and media arts major, said in a phone interview. “If now there’s a new one that’s more official and they have time set aside for pickup, then I’m sure they’ll bring in a lot more kids than we were able to get last semester.”

Ulrich said those interested in using the facility can schedule a time slot by sending him an e-mail. He added that, in his experience, students have been gracious with each other when using the gym, even if multiple groups are occupying the area.

“Everyone’s always respectful of one another’s space,” Ulrich said. “They’ll cut the gym in half if that’s what it takes. They get the music going, and everyone just has a good time.”