Students, Student-Athletes Struggle for South Court



With loss of access to the South Court facilities in the Redhawk Center, students struggle to accept the Astroturf Gym as their new recreation area.

Seattle University’s Eisiminger Fitness and Redhawk Center—a fully equipped space featuring over 180,000 square feet of recreational, fitness and athletic space—houses a number of Division I sports teams as well as countless clubs on campus.

Recent renovations to the surface of the Redhawk Center’s Astro Gym have put Redhawk sports clubs on edge. After construction, featuring a removal of the turf field and replacement with rubber, the Astro Gym will be utilized primarily by Seattle U’s Division I teams.

Ryan Murphy, a member of Seattle U’s Club Basketball Team, expressed concern regarding the new designated location and hours for team practices. The club, which previously practiced at South Court, will no longer be able to do so. South Court will only be utilized by Seattle U athletic teams. In an effort to revoke the changes, Murphy started an online petition which garnered over 200 signatures in just two days.

“We’re trying to advocate for the students because nobody was previously,” Murphy said.

Since the petition’s conception, many clubs have gotten involved and have been in communication with the Athletics Department. Many decisions regarding usage of the modified facility and its hours are still up in the air, and Murphy vows to fight for the recreational students’ side—a side he claims had no input in the decision- making process.

“Part of the reason why I think SU wants to do this is due to the big push for the DI program,” Murphy said. “But they’re doing it at the expense of the students. Students already have limited resources…there needs to be equal access to all the facilities. That’s what I’m fighting for.”

The decision to resurface the Astro Gym was one step in a plan formulated by both the Recreation and Athletic Departments.

Shaney Fink, Athletic Director at Seattle U, believes reconstruction in the Astro Gym is the first step in a long process of changes. Because it is the most scheduled facility on campus, the demand for South Court was high. This also means there was not enough space for all teams and clubs to participate to their desired extent.

“A lot of students want to participate, so changing it will expand the opportunity,” Fink added.

Defender Kees Westra in play during Sunday’s match against Kansas City at Championship Field.

Holly Rothering led the Redhawks in scoring with two goals, resulting in a 4-1 win. The team had 41 shots, setting a new program record. On Sunday, the team faced University of Kansas City Missouri, the winners of the 2018 WAC championship. The Redhawks finished with a 1-1 tie, with first-year Mo Nagel scoring her first career goal as a Redhawk.

Rounding out the week, men’s soccer played locally against Houston Baptist at Championship Field and shut them

The long-term solution, Fink said, revolves around space. The university simply does not have enough room currently—but hopes to expand in coming years.

The good news is that students, athletes and administration have all become involved. The limited space has created tension between users of the space, but Fink sees this as a positive.

“I love that people care…I can’t think of a better campus than one where everybody is getting some sort of recreation,” Fink said.

The final question, according to Fink, remains up in the air for the time being.

“How do you make it so that we’re maximizing opportunities while eliminating tension?”

Nicole may be reached at [email protected]