Rec fields fail to cope with weather problems

Without practice, athletes have less opportunity to improve–something every athlete knows.

Intramural and club sports at The University of Alabama are often faced with this dilemma. The recreation fields that are allotted for student and club sport use are at the mercy of the weather, sometimes resulting in fewer practices for club teams.

“We work with Champion Sports Medicine and the athletic training staff on safety, and if there’s standing water or anything like that, we can’t allow for play to happen,” Darrell Hargreaves, assistant director for Intramural and Club Sports, said. “We try to keep fields as open as possible. We realize how important practice is for all of our clubs.”

Men’s lacrosse club president Craig Landru said the recreation fields are in a location that has poor drainage, making the fields unusable with even the smallest amount of rain. Heavy rain and standing water are the main reasons the recreation fields may close, and even if the fields are somewhat usable, Hargreaves said they would be closed to keep the fields in good condition.

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“I think that there’s not really anything we can do about it. Practicing on a really wet field is bad for the field itself. It tears up the grass,” senior Caitlin Reilly, president of the women’s rugby team, said.

At the beginning of the club team’s season, a winter storm rolled through Tuscaloosa, shutting the University down. Hargreaves said when the University shuts down operations, the recreation fields shut down as well. This left many teams without practice for up to three weeks before their first games of the season. The women’s lacrosse team experienced losses due to the lack of practice.

“Our team has raw talent and knowledge of the plays through film study, but the lack of practice was very evident in our first loss against Georgia,” junior Sarah Sanderson said. “Being a new team and playing the hardest team in our league without three weeks’ worth of practice definitely was a major factor in the outcome.”

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The missed practice showed for the men’s lacrosse team too.

“For the first few games this season, we had practices canceled for the days leading up to our games, and it showed tremendously when playing against a team that was able to have all their practices beforehand,” senior Craig Landru said.

When the recreation fields are closed, the Student Recreation Center offers indoor alternatives to the club teams. Teams can come in and use the weights or track, do a simulated walkthrough in the gym or reserve the meeting space to review film. Clubs take advantage of these alternatives, but due to a lack of sufficient space, some clubs have to cancel any sort of practice altogether.

“Currently, the Rec offers the use of the Student Activities Center,” Reilly said. “The only problem with that is that only one club can use it at a time, and you need to reserve it as soon as you get the cancellation email.”

Sanderson and her teammates said they are also frustrated with the lack of alternatives available. The lacrosse team is not allowed to bring its equipment into the gym, leaving it with the option to watch film or lift weights.

“The frustration with the cancellations actually has nothing to do with the cancellation itself,” Sanderson said. “But the lack of an alternative place to play is the killer. It’s incredible how many resources the school has, yet barely any is spent towards the hundreds of people dedicating their free time to a sport that isn’t Division I yet. The athletes still go out there wearing the Alabama uniform with every intention of representing all that Alabama stands for, which is domination.”

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Landru suggested that the Rec Center invest in a turf field, which can be used in all weather conditions.

“We will have discussions when we take over certain areas of Bryce, and on the campus master plan, there’s certain dedicated stuff for University Recreation fields, and that might be an option a little later,” Hargreaves said.


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