McCann Gets a Makeover
Despite lacking the usual chatter of energetic students during the summer months, the Marist College campus has not been entirely silent. The blaring sounds of construction have permeated the south end of campus as long-standing plans for redesigning the James J. McCann Fitness Center and Grey Gym have finally commenced.
The first steps of the expansion and renovations, fueled by a $2 million grant from the James J. McCann Charitable Trust announced in December, involved installing a temporary fitness center tent on Marist’s South Field. According to Athletic Director Tim Murray, work in the new fitness center is slated to finish by the fall of 2019.
Construction on the intermediate facility started in mid-July. By Monday, July 23 the tent was erected and ready to have equipment moved in and installed. An outside moving crew and student workers from the operations department of McCann worked alongside each other to furnish the space with squat racks, cardio machines, and everything else one would find in the old fitness center.
The McCann operations crew worked tirelessly to arrange the necessary amenities within the limitations of the space. The initial humid conditions inside the tent experienced during construction have been alleviated by air conditioning and other comforts-by-design, such as the ability to open up parts of the “walls” to allow fresh air in.
Since the start of August, the South Field Fitness Center has been open for use. A passerby strolling by the McCann complex can now hear motivational music roaring alongside the laborious grunts of athletes training inside the tent.
Demolition began promptly once everything was properly transported out of the Grey Gym and old fitness center. Nearly all of the demo-work will be completed in time for students to return to campus.
“We had to be flexible enough to prepare for interruption and change. Some days our building was without water, others without electricity…Now that the new site is defined the worst is over, and it is up to the contractors,” Murray said.
Coordination for team usage of the South Field Fitness Center tent is the responsibility of Aaron Suma, Marist’s strength and conditioning coach since 2015. Time slots are created after assessing the needs of coaches and reaching a middle ground with what the space can support.
Most of the Marist varsity student-athletes have returned to campus and commenced training late in the summer, and many of them have had experience utilizing the temporary facilities.
“It has been a fairly simple adjustment. We currently use it around 10 a.m. just prior to our practice, although that might change once the semester starts. It won’t be as easy as using the normal gym, but most teams get in and out within an hour,” said Kristen Reilly ‘19, a forward for women’s soccer.
Wesley Beans ‘18, a fifth-year football player and starting safety, does not think the teams have been greatly affected by the changes. “Our lifting schedule hasn’t been affected, at least not for camp. There shouldn’t be too many difficulties because of the new rule in place for non-athletes not having access until 6 p.m.,” Beans said.
This arrangement has raised concern among non-athlete students on campus, who will only have access to the South Field Fitness Center tent from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to midnight Sundays.
In addressing these concerns, Murray believes students will have to adjust to new patterns in utilizing fitness centers on campus. A viable solution to the inconvenience of limited access to the tent along South Field will be a revamped fitness center at the Marketplace. More strength-training equipment including free weights are being added, and the hours have been extended. Students can use the facilities from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. during the week.
“We will try to be as accommodating as possible, and will closely track usage. If there is enough interest from the students, we might even extend the hours to 6 a.m.,” Murray said.
Another concern was the lack of a venue for several intramural sports due to the demolished Grey Gym. The solution: extra curtains. The McCann arena can now be sectioned off into three separate spaces and reserved accordingly for intramural events.
The new plans currently include two separate weight rooms -- one for general students, and the other exclusively for athletic teams. Both will feature the amenities students have grown accustomed to in the old fitness center, without the hassle of having to share the space. Also included will be an elevated jogging track and two full wood-floor basketball courts where the Grey Gym once stood.
“Yes, there are minor frustrations, but everyone realizes there is an incredible end goal in the works that make it all worth it,” Reilly said.