With South Florida growing as an athletic school, the university needs to bring an athletics facility to the campus that would give the student-athletes what they need to let them train in ways that are on par with other Division I schools.
Among the biggest concerns for USF athletes, not provided by their current arrangements in the Sun Dome and the Campus Recreation Center, are convenience, close proximity to the teams’ playing fields, privacy and amenities such as training tables.
Presently athletes have to walk long distances from weight rooms to locker rooms to coaches’ offices to practice fields.
They also share the Rec Center locker rooms and share the weights for training with some teams, having to schedule times at the Sun Dome for weights. Many coaches presently have their offices in the Sun Dome and require their athletes to go out of their way to get to them.
With the locker rooms being in the Rec Center, the tennis, softball and soccer teams have the inconvenience of walking to their destination before and after games and practices.
“It’s pretty inconvenient,” Aaron Ortega, a sophomore on the soccer team, said. “We have to walk around tennis courts. It would be cool to have something around the field.”
Other Division I schools that draw big-name athletes and are considered big-name programs, such as Michigan, where senior tennis player Dan McCain previously attended, have their facilities closer to the athletic fields than USF’s Rec Center has to its fields.
“One thing that was better (at Michigan) is that they had a locker room right there next to the court,” McCain said. “They don’t really have one here.”
One possibility mentioned to McCain by a member of the athletic staff is that there might be lockers or something built where the tent is in the middle of the current tennis facility.Besides the players’ lockers being far away from their game and practice sites, they have to share locker rooms with other teams or the student body.
The women’s soccer, softball and track teams share a locker room, and the men’s soccer team uses the same locker room as the male students using the Rec Center.
“(We have) a very little locker room and a little area to change,” sophomore pitcher Corin Tassio said. “You have people walking in and out with the soccer team, so it’s not really like our locker room.
“If we hang things on the wall, we can’t hang it all over the place because we don’t want them to take it down.”
Ortega said not having the privacy of their own locker room also endangers the players’ focus and mental preparedness toward games.
“It kind of takes away from your focus,” Ortega said. “You’re walking by, and (people) are talking about this and that.”
Having one locker room per team will also help team unity. Athletes are generally known as superstitious or routine people who do certain things before a game such as listen to music, and they start their focus with their teammates.
There have been cases when the men’s soccer players were requested to turn their music down while mentally preparing for a game by people also using the Rec Center.
Tassio, who transferred from Georgia, said the Bulldogs’ facility had many accommodations for the athletes.
“We had great facilities,” Tassio said. “They had an athletic training table where you could eat lunch, and they had a study hall.”
The new facilities would ease the student-athletes’ already strenuous practice schedule and might even add a few more “W’s” to the win column.
“That would be awesome,” Tassio said. “We need it. I think the sports here need it.”
Contact Bryan Fazio at firstname.lastname@example.org