Suffolk University to reopen gym in early February


Photo: Yongze Wang

The Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym

By Ethan Mcdowell

Suffolk University’s Athletic Director Cary McConnell is targeting Feb. 10 as the date the school will reopen its gym following a flooding incident that occurred over winter break. In the meantime, Suffolk will continue using Emerson’s Brown and Plofker gym for women’s basketball practices.

After a pipe burst in Suffolk’s gym, water damaged the school’s basketball court to the point where they needed to replace the hardwood flooring. McConnell said the alarm that is supposed to alert officials of flooding did not sound, which led to their basketball coaches discovering the damage once they returned from the winter vacation.

“Upon walking on the court, it kind of had a water sound,” McConnell said in a phone interview. “You could feel the water squishing underneath the wood. The entire wood floor buckled and essentially was destroyed.”

McConnell said they immediately removed the floor due to concerns of mold. While Suffolk waited for the new materials to reconstruct their gym floor, they searched for alternative locations for their men’s and women’s basketball teams to play.

The men’s basketball team currently practices and plays at Tufts University, and the women’s basketball team plays and practices in the Brown and Plofker gym. Emerson’s Athletic Director Patricia Nicol said she wanted to help Suffolk during their time of need.

“We had a similar situation in the past, and they were wonderful to us,” Nicol said in an interview.

The Brown and Plofker gym closed for a month in 2017 following flooding that occurred after a ball hit a sprinkler during an indoor baseball practice.

“They saved our season because both of our teams were able to finish out their season,” Nicol said. “When that situation occurred with them, I was very sensitive to their plight.”

Suffolk’s women’s basketball team will continue practicing on Emerson’s campus until their gym reopens, but McConnell said the team is done playing games there. For the games that they did play, Nicol said Suffolk staffed the events.

Nicol said she scheduled Suffolk’s practices and games for times that did not interfere with Emerson’s events.

“We did not move anybody,” Nicol said. “If something was available around the existing schedules, then we were able to accommodate them, but certainly our priority was to our teams and to our students.”

If Suffolk is able to return to their gym on Feb. 10, McConnell said both teams will be able to play their senior nights on their home court. McConnell said he is thankful for Emerson’s assistance throughout this process.

“My stress levels were fairly high,” McConnell said. “It’s amazing when something like this happens, and I think other institutions can feel your pain, and it was just so helpful to fit us in the gym.”