Development Plans for Athletic Complex

Ridley Eastland-Fruit, Sports Reporter

The grass is green and the future is bright for Whitman’s Athletic Complex. The Athletic Department is progressing on plans to bring game streaming capability and possibly a new clubhouse to the facility.

Located three blocks north of campus, the Athletic Complex is host to practice and game fields for Whitman’s field sports. Men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse and baseball all call the facility home. Unlike many other game-day locations in the conference, however, Whitman’s Complex is lacking game streaming capability and supplementary athletic facilities on-site. To access the locker rooms and training room, teams must make the trek back to Sherwood Athletic Center.

Fortunately, the Athletic Department has plans to remedy these problems. Game streaming is being implemented beginning this spring at soccer and lacrosse’s game field. Starting with the lacrosse season in the spring, students, family, friends and recruits will be able to view live feeds of games. This service is already available at Whitman for indoor sports like basketball and volleyball.

“Our motivation is to provide equity to all our teams as we are already streaming for other sports where we have wire connected internet. With this added service, we hope to enhance our field sports recruiting and to better meet the needs of our families in the soccer and lacrosse programs,” said Athletic Director Dean Snider.

Women’s soccer head coach Laura Williamson is especially drawn to the recruiting potential of having game streaming capability. “We recruit nationally and parents, family and friends of our students want to be able to see our matches … The ability to tell families and prospective students that all of our matches will be streamed online will allow us to continue to draw student-athletes from a range of regions.”

While game streaming is a concrete development, the procurement of locker rooms and training facilities are less certain. Conversations have taken place in Sherwood over recent months regarding the construction of a clubhouse between the practice fields at the Complex. Current architectural plans show the facility would feature four locker rooms (one for each team), a training room with an ice bath, supplementary offices for coaches, a dressing room for officials and a central hallway that could be used for events.

“Our department’s top priority is the addition of a clubhouse facility at the Athletic Fields. This project will be considered, along with other college priorities, in the strategic planning process,” Snider said. In other words, the clubhouse is the department’s top proposal for Whitman’s strategic plan. Due to higher priority projects, like the Living at Whitman Initiative, however, it is not known when the clubhouse will be built. Only once the new dining and residence halls are completed will the College begin to more seriously consider projects like this.

Yet despite the uncertainty, coaches and players remain hopeful for the clubhouse’s construction. The soccer programs, for instance, currently do not have locker rooms. The women’s team has tried to make use of the small building by the game field for locker room and game film purposes, but the space is small, run down and filled with equipment.

“It would be beneficial to have a building where we could watch film and get treatment,” said sophomore soccer player Ellie Fix. “I’m [probably] not going to be here for it, but it’s necessary.”

Men’s soccer head coach Jose Cedeno is also excited by the prospect of facilities at the fields. “The clubhouse will be a great addition to our program as it will become our home base. Just steps away from our practice and game fields we will have access to a training room, locker room and showers. I’ll enjoy that our players will have a more complete experience on what it’s like to play college soccer,” Cedeno said.

Williamson added, “Team spaces are vital to creating the environment and team chemistry to take our programs where we want to go–the top of the Northwest Conference. Not only would a clubhouse and locker room space streamline the daily operation of our team and save precious time for our already time-crunched students, but it would also give the athletes a space that is truly only theirs.”

Regardless of when the plans come to fruition, Whitman’s athletes, families, fans and prospective students will undoubtedly benefit from these services. Most importantly, both projects give Whitman Athletics the growth it needs to continue to compete with other schools and recruit top-caliber athletes from around the world. As Williamson put it, “At the end of the day, prospective students take facilities into account when making their final college decisions.”