Philips Gym Renovation Continues Throughout School Year


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

The swimming and diving team eagerly awaits the renovation of Carr Pool, as Philips gym construction continues into the 2017 fall semester. The $13 million project is set for completion in August 2018.

Alex McNicoll, Sports Editor

As Philips gym renovations continue, members of the Athletics Department are confident that the project’s disruptions will ultimately be a worthwhile investment for the campus. The $13 million project, according to Delta Lodge Director of Athletics Natalie Winkelfoos, will benefit both sports teams and non-athletes.

“[It’s going to be a space] where people can start to build more community,” Winkelfoos said. “There’s going to be a lounge where people can [convene] in really cool ways and have face-to-face conversations, and it’s really a focus on the overall physical wellness, which then connects to the overall emotional wellness of everybody.”

The rebuild, which includes an upgraded cardio and fitness room, a lounge, and a long-overdue renovation to the Carr pool, follows an $8 million construction of the Knowlton Athletics Complex. Winkelfoos projects the doors to the gym will reopen in August 2018.

The gym took over the land of two Village Housing Units on Woodland Street. Oberlin aims to keep up with other North Coast Athletic Conference colleges, like Kenyon College, that use new and more costly facilities to attract students and act as a community space.

“A lot of our students are coming from a place where they have way better facilities than we do,” Winkelfoos said. “This is allowing us to increase our recruitment efforts, and not just for athletics.”

The changes come with immediate costs beyond the financial for students, who will have to withstand cramped facilities and construction sounds for most of the school year as construction workers race to stay on schedule. Most affected by the renovations will be the swimming and diving team, which will practice in the Splash Zone Aquatic Center, a facility one and a half miles away from campus.

Swimming and diving Head Coach Andrew Brabson, who’s entering his fifth season with the team, is not deterred by the long-awaited changes and hopes that the long-term benefits will outweigh the challenges his team will face in the coming season.

“With Splash Zone … just two minutes from campus, it’s really just a small hindrance for a larger vision where we will have a functional facility that will be beneficial for the team and the campus,” Brabson said. “The mood right now is that even though it’s going to be a little chaotic not having a pool on campus, everyone is excited for the future.”

The swimming and diving team — which will already be facing an uphill battle after losing record-breaking Maddie Prangley, OC ’17, who holds nearly all Yeowomen swimming records — will have to rely on a younger core of athletes as the team recovers. But the financial benefits for the swim team will come in many ways. According to Winkelfoos, the college will no longer have to worry about pouring money into short-term resolutions to the Carr pool.

Oberlin students will have to brace for change as construction continues to interfere with everyday life. Meanwhile, the Athletics Department will have to work to ensure that the changes are recognized as a worthwhile investment to all Oberlin students who use the athletic facilities by brainstorming new ways to use the space.

“The key is going to be for us to build some really dynamic programming, which is going to be attractive to your typical Oberlin College student,” Winkelfoos said. “I know that not everybody wants to do powerlifting, and I know that not everybody is interested in having washboard abs, but everybody should be interested in taking care of themselves physically. That should be a priority on a college campus, and that’s the major benefit of this facility.”