Since the announcement of its renovation in May 2011, Colorado College students have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the improved El Pomar Sports Center, including additions to the track and Washburn field.
At the moment, however, the renovation of El Pomar is behind schedule, much to the disdain of students and coaches alike.
As students traipse past Cutler Hall and into Worner, they cannot help but notice the bulldozers and other machinery hard at work on the dated center, which originally opened its doors in 1970. Questions like, “When will it open?” and “Can we peek inside?” are abuzz among CC’s active and fit student population.
Particularly antsy for El Pomar to open its doors, Colorado College’s plethora of student athletes have found themselves without a home to prepare for their respective sports.
“We have no place to work out and we have to jog alongside the river,” said junior James Olson, member of the track and field team. “Basically the only way to get exercise is to jog, which isn’t optimal for our training. Also [the trail] isn’t the best for sprinting either because it’s gravel. The old track was the worst track I’ve ever seen.”
While he feels the renovations will be a big improvement, Olson wishes they would be completed more quickly.
“We’re not going to give up [despite not having a track],” said cross-country and track-and-field coach Ted Castaneda. “We have been doing most work outs off campus and have contacted a couple high schools about using their tracks.”
Lacrosse players, like freshmen Chris Maves and sophomore Dylan Davie, have been heading to RedRocks Crossfit gym on South Tejon St. or playing rugby in order to stay in shape for their upcoming spring season.
Others, like freshman Weston Sandfort, a cross-country and track runner, have resorted to in-dorm push–ups and crunches. Sandfort said that in spite of not having a track on which to train, the cross-country team has been doing speed workouts in Memorial Park.
On Aug. 6, coaches and administrative staff moved into their new offices located in El Pomar, but “construction is slightly behind schedule,” said Ken Ralph, the CC director of athletics. “We have run into some mechanical glitches because we are dealing with an old, poorly designed building… there were a number of unforeseen challenges that have set us back a bit,” said Ralph.
Lacrosse coach Sean Woods says he understands the delays and that the renovations haven’t hindered his players.
“Construction takes time,” said Woods. “You’re going to run into certain snags along the way. All things considered, I think the construction has been going pretty smoothly.”
Since the new turf has already been completed, the lacrosse team has been able to continue their early season practices as usual.
“Construction hasn’t really impeded our training much at all,” Woods said. “We start practicing the explosive moves early in the season and we’ve gotten in plenty of field training. We’ve also had access to the turf in the new center, which has been helpful.”
While the building aspect of the project may be lagging, Ralph is raving about the future appearance and amenities of El Pomar.
“The use of light and colors is really breathtaking,,” he said. “Once the fitness center is completed, we will have a beautiful workout facility and one that will encourage interactions between faculty, staff, and students.”
Coach Castaneda even goes as far to say that El Pomar “feels like a Division I facility,” and praised Ralph for his impressive fundraising.
The entire renovation venture cost approximately $27 million and the facility will be home to 29,000 square feet of fitness nirvana, readily available for the anxious CC population to use.
“[El Pomar is] incredible,” Woods said. “It’s the best facility for Division III sports.”
The future El Pomar Sports Center will have something for those of all athletic pursuits: a cardio room, a weight room, basketball and volleyball courts, a yoga studio, squash courts, lounge spaces, and numerous locker rooms, according to a 2011 CC bulletin.
With the completion of the El Pomar renovations, the Tiger Pit will no longer be the sole option for students and faculty seeking to break a sweat. Those wishing to relive their high school basketball glory days can do so on the new ball court.
Beginning in March 2013, the Adam Press Fitness Center will open its doors for strength training and the like, “[marking] a tremendous positive shift for student life on this campus,” said Ralph.
Olson said he was told that the track will be completed in March of 2013.
The complex is running limited open-gym hours and Ralph hopes to open the courts, climbing wall, and weight room by the beginning of second block. During President Tiefenthaler’s inaugural weekend, tours of El Pomar will be offered to the general college population.
“With the rigors of the Block Plan, it is really necessary to reduce stress and keep yourself healthy,” says Ralph, “We will finally be able to provide the resources for our students and faculty to take care of themselves in a healthy, positive manner.”
Colleen Leong and Jack Sweeney