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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Recreation center renovations receive good reviews

<y 2017, the Carleton Recreation Center underwent a series of upgrades. The entire fieldhouse on the upstairs level was replaced, which included renovations to the courts, track, and safety curtains. Mikki Showers, the Recreation Center manager, explained that while the fieldhouse had held up extremely well since its construction in 2000, complaints from users of the Recreation Center prompted the school’s decision to begin upgrading the facility.

“There was an increasing number of stress reactions and stress factors, particularly in the mid-foot and mid-shin areas,” Showers said. These injuries began predominantly with the Carleton track and field athletes, as reported by many players, coaches, and trainers. Soon after, members of the baseball and softball teams began experiencing an increased number of injuries as well.

The original track simply consisted of a six-millimeter piece of rubber on top of solid concrete. Through extended use, over time the track had become very compressed and difficult to run on. For safety reasons, the concern was discussed with facilities, and soon afterwards the board approved the proposal for new renovations.

To fix the track, the school decided on a process called an overlay, which essentially entails an improved track going directly over the top of the current floor. Showers described this process as one that “saves money, saves time, and saves on demolition and disposal.” With the upgraded facility now in full use by numerous sports teams, the new surface continues to receive excellent and reviews and overall praise. Harry Alappat ’20, a hurdler on the men’s track and field team, acknowledged the positive effects the new surface has had on athletes with prior injuries.

“The new track surface is definitely a great improvement over the previous track. Last year, I had shin splints and a hip injury that kept me out for most of the season. I feel a lot better running on the new surface and haven’t had nearly as many injury issues. This is something I’ve noticed throughout the rest of the team as well,” Alappat said.

Ben Schwartz ’20, a sprinter, echoed the improvements of the track and spoke of the difficulties of transitioning from indoor to outdoor track while training at such a high intensity.

“The new surface is actually much softer. I think the trouble with injuries could be simply because indoor track is much different than outdoor. The indoor track is much smaller and after winter break, I think having practices every day can be a lot for a person’s legs. Practicing five to six times a week is stressful on the bones and muscles, so I think that this is the main reason for injuries. This new surface definitely feels better than the last one, but I think some of the injuries were more because of overworking muscles or legs rather than the surface,” Schwartz explained.

As a member of both the men’s track and soccer teams, Peter Keel ’20 noticed that the new track has minimized injury, but has been difficult to train on when playing soccer. “Last year, with the old track, I always had shin splints, but this year I don’t have them as much. The inside of the track is way stickier than last year which makes it much more likely to sprain your ankle if you’re playing futsal (a version of soccer),” Keel said.

The Carleton track athletes were overall very supportive of the Recreation Center upgrades. This approval was echoed by other teams that train on the surface, such as baseball and tennis.

Keenan Moore ’20, a member of the baseball team, explained there is a noticeable transition when training moves from the Recreation Center to the diamond, however the new surface is an adequate alternative during the winter months. “The new rec floor is a significant upgrade from the old floor. However, as a baseball player, the surface does not replicate the playing surface of a diamond well. There is definitely an adjustment period once we go outside. The ball generally bounces higher and reacts more to spin than a natural surface,” Moore said.

Zoe Park ’20, a member of the women’s tennis team, also spoke to the benefits created from the Recreation Center upgrades. “Our team as a whole likes the new rec center surface a lot better than the old surface. We like how the courts aren’t as fast as the old ones, but we all know that once our opponent slices the ball, the point is over,” Park said.

The new track has received great reviews during this training period, and it will be interesting to see if there will be any performance improvements during competitions. At other colleges, where this track overlay has also been added, many record times have been set at recent meets. This Saturday, Feb. 3, Carleton will host the Meet of Hearts, the first official competition on the new track.

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