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Students welcome the opening of athletic facilities, but hope changes will come

February 26, 2021

Mindy Leder
RERACK YOUR WEIGHTS: Laila McCain '21 puts back her weights after using one of Bowdoin's many squat racks. To mitigate the risk of community spread, after McCain got a full, 45-minute workout in, her station was sterilized and sat unused for 15-minutes.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought intercollegiate athletics to a grinding stop, the College’s move to “Yellow” status has allow students to use athletic facilities starting last Monday. In an email sent to the Bowdoin community on February 17  by Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan, wrote students could use the Buck Center for Health and Fitness, Greason Pool and Lubin Squash Courts as long as the campus stays in “Yellow” status.

“I’m very happy that we have access to the gym,” Jacob Sternberg-Sher ’23, a member of the men’s soccer team, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “It’s been really good. I did a lift with some of my teammates, which was nice.”

Claire Traum ’21, captain of the women’s track and field team, expressed her confidence in Bowdoin’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“We have no active cases in terms of students right now on campus, and I feel just as comfortable working out as going to a dining hall,” Traum said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

After a semester of staying at home, students are eager to resume life as it was before the pandemic. To use the facilities, students must first sign up on CampusGroups for 45-minute slots in order to minimize contact with other students. The facilities follow strict guidelines, including a 15-minute sanitation period between time slots, mandatory face masks and physical distancing at all times.

“I’ve heard it’s pretty easy to sign up,” Peyton Tran ’23, a member of the swim and dive team, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “My friends were talking about how they kind of wish that sign-ups could happen for the whole month instead of a week at a time”

Despite the largely positive response, the reopening plan of athletic facilities still has its shortcomings. For swimmers like Tran, some rules have made using Greason Pool more difficult than usual.

“I’m worried when I leave [Greason] about being cold,” Tran said. “It’s definitely more of a pain to not be able to change out of the wet [swim]suit after practice.”

To remedy this, Bowdoin will be setting up curtains on deck to give swimmers a physically distanced way to change without having to brave the Maine cold.

“One thing I’ve always really appreciated about the College  is Bowdoin’s openness to feedback,” Traum said. “I think that the athletic department, if they continue to listen to student voices and provide opportunities for feedback, could have some really creative solutions moving forward with athletics. It will only make the whole situation better.”

Mindy Leder
KEEPING SIX FEET: As athletic facilities opened up, keeping capacity low has meant that the gym in Buck Fitness center has much fewer people in it throughout the day.

Some solutions are slow to come, and many athletes wish that the athletic department would implement them quicker. For example, Traum, who also runs cross country, sees the 45-minute time slots as an inconvenience and a limiting factor to performance.

“With the 45-minute slots, I booked back-to-back slots hoping to just run through, but they stopped me and I have to go out and stand there and get back on the same machine and start running again,” Traum said. ”I think it could be improved, especially if they can think of ways to have certain parts of the gym have longer sessions.”

Before gaining access to the facilities, many students had to be creative in their workout routines and find safe alternatives for their sports.

“I’m living in Coles Tower, and we have an extra room open in our quad, so we put together a gym. We brought some dumbbells, a barbell, and a biking machine: the ones that hook up to the bottom of your bike,” Sternberg-Sher said.

However, some students did not have an easy time finding ways to work out, and the opening of facilities has given them a chance to get back in shape.

“I feel really lucky getting to use the pool. I know that a lot of other sports are fighting for weight in a certain space,” Tran said. “I hope that, as the …  semester moves forward, we get into a more regular rhythm and people can practice and work out with their friends as close to normal as possible.”


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