Many new things have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Franciscan University of Steubenville and its administration have come up with ideas to keep the school year running well.
There is a new card scanner in Antonian hall, to-go food at the pub, and much more outdoor seating. But one of the most exciting proposals is a new sports center behind St. Thomas More Hall, a project that may continue to grow beyond the pandemic.
The idea was first proposed by Scott Greve, director of athletics at Franciscan University. As the athletic department looked for alternatives to the main gym for sport practices and were forced to work with the restrictions of COVID-19, the idea stayed the same: the more the school could move outside, the better.
“I was actually just up on the new turf field about a month ago, checking out the progress up there,” said Greve. “At that time we were thinking (of) how do we get a lot of these sports out of the gym, and the thought just kind of came to me: what if we were able to build an outdoor sports court and use some of the new area that was created through the construction up by the turf field?”
Greve brought the idea to David Schmiesing, vice president of student life, who then brought it to the university president, the Rev. Dave Pivonka TOR.
“When Father Dave came back to me, he had the idea of putting it next to Tommy, which was a much better idea,” said Greve. “For me, I just thought we would never be able to use that ground up there for something like that. … So, when Father Dave said, ‘Yeah, we want to do this, but let’s put it up by Tommy,’ I was like, ‘That’s fabulous!’”
These new sports courts will not only be used by the varsity athletic teams, but also by intramurals and the general student body.
“It will have two full length basketball courts, that will also have lines for two volleyball courts inside the basketball court lines,” said Greve. “Then there will be a total of six basketball hoops up there. Two on either end of the court, and two on the opposite ends as well, just for people to shoot around. … We’re still looking at some other possibilities for some other activities, winter activities, up there as well.”
The new sports courts don’t have any official title yet and are just called the “athletic sport courts” as of now. There is still the possibility of adding other accommodations, such as outdoor seating.
“There probably will be some bleachers up there,” said Greve, “some of the three seat bleachers that we have around campus, we’ll probably move some of those up there. There’s a change that we foresee, like during the summertime, possibly putting a tent over the courts, or use for the conferences. So … there’s all kinds of ideas, but we really haven’t worked them all out yet. The real premise behind building them is to provide the students with an area to use that’s outside, especially during COVID. So, I’m sure that it’s going to grow into many more opportunities for the students as well.”
The plan is to have the courts open to students this semester, as Greve said that they will be ready before November.
Greve says he would like to personally thank Schmiesing, Pivonka, and the rest of the administration for acting so quickly and seeing the need for this project.
“We really believe in athletics, so this is going to be a blessing to the student body,” said Greve. “We’re just very thankful that they took such quick action and that we’ll be able to have this project ready for the students, even before the end of the semester.”