How soon are the improvements for the Sports Court?

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Students question the usefulness and purpose of the UD Sports Court, which was unveiled last semester. Photo by Henry Gramling.

Is the Sports Court a worthy successor to the pool or does it fall short of the mark?

One of the newest additions to the University of Dallas campus is the sports court, located right outside the gym over the now filled-in pool. It is a fairly small enclosure, yet quite versatile.

“The court has the functionality to support futsal, volleyball, pickleball, and [once the hoops are added] basketball,” as Ben Gibbs, double alumnus and project manager of the sports court, stated.

Additionally, the sports court was designed—according to the suggestions of UD soccer coach David Hoffman—to act as an extra space for working out when the Maher Center is full or the weather is particularly nice.

According to Gibbs, “There is some added strength and agility equipment that can be checked out from the fitness center and a turf strip for outdoor workouts on the site.”

Although the sports court has many impressive features on paper, does it live up to its intended mission?

According to Gibbs, its intent is to: “Promote student health and wellness and provide a space for students to be in community together and have fun.”

Both of these things rely on the court being used by the students; so, how does it hold up? Well, many find the list of sports court’s various uses rather… useless.

As Matthew Gasperini, a freshman theology major, stated: “It’s definitely better than the giant construction site that we had the first few months of school […] For those who want to use it, go ahead. It’s not really that useful.”

Others enjoy the sports court occasionally, but find certain features very limited due to construction issues.

As Joshua Bell, sophomore business major, said: “Honestly, the pickleball court is a little bit difficult to use because of the matting they put in. It is somewhat soft in certain spots so the ball doesn’t bounce as well.”

The pickleball paddles are also a common issue for students, with most of them being partially or wholly broken. Still others wish the sports court had not replaced the only pool on campus, especially when the scorching Texas heat rolls in. Overall, the impression among the UD students is very lukewarm, and as of yet it does not seem quite the bustling center of community driven outdoor fun the designers intended.

However, improvements are on the way which may change this, two of which are to the courts themselves and should be completed by the end of this semester.

As stated by Gibbs, “The first [improvement] is that we need to add basketball hoops above the futsal goals, and the second is that we need to swap out the current flooring with a new floor painted to support all of the sports that could be played on the court.”

This addition of basketball hoops is welcome of course and may see some use; however, most students likely would prefer the existing indoor courts. Thus, this addition to the sports court may see relatively little usage. However, the addition of a new floor— particularly a hard floor—would solve the most common issue of the sports court reported by the students: the lack-luster performance of the mats for playing pickleball. As it turns out, having the ball bounce back up when you hit it helps a lot.

Another potential improvement would be to the hill overlooking the sports court, Dean Roper having thought of it

“I would love to see that whole hill up from the sports court terraced, with the underbrush cleared, and with some gravel in so we can have tables,” Dean Roper stated. “So, when there’s intramurals, fans can come and cheer on people. I just envision that as another great outdoor social space.” Roper explained that the area outside the Cap Bar was never used until Cardinal Farrell was built outside and he hopes the same will occur with the Sports Court.

Whether these improvements will make a difference, whether the sports court will become a haven for athletics and social gatherings or remain relatively quiet and empty, only time will tell.

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