Athletics Department raising funds for improved facilities

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Author: Damian Mendieta

Taylor Pool, McKinnon Family Tennis Center first on list to undergo rennovations

In an effort to bolster the success of the tennis and aquatics teams, Occidental has been raising funds for the construction of new facilities. According to Director of Communications Jim Tranquada, in order to begin building new facilities, the Board of Trustees requires the college to have full funding on hand. Neither facility has a set date for construction according to Director of Athletics Jaime Hoffman, and the construction of a new pool and additional courts will depend on benefactors.

The Taylor Pool has proven problematic for the swimming, diving and water polo teams as the facility’s relatively small dimensions often cannot accommodate all members of a team during practices. Additionally, divers are forced to commute daily to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center since the pool at Occidental is too shallow to permit safe execution of a 5-meter and 1-meter dive. 

“First and foremost, we want to make sure that we can bring our divers on campus. It is a challenge to get over to the Rose Bowl every day for our divers,” Manning asserted, “That doesn’t mean that we need an Olympic-sized facility, but while that would be ideal, Claremont has a 25-yard by 40-yard pool, which is significantly smaller than an Olympic sized pool, but they have a massive team that they are able to accommodate in a single practice.” 

For water polo, home games are an issue since Taylor Pool does not meet the NCAA requirements. Zubrin explained that the teams are forced to practice in a facility smaller and shallower than where they compete in. “What we’re doing right now would be the equivalent of the basketball team being on a half-court and then competing on a regular court,” Zubrin said. 

The aquatics programs are not the only ones who will deal with renovations. 

Ever since the tennis program lost three courts to the construction of Rangeview Hall, there have been plans to build additional tennis courts. The McKinnon Family Tennis Center  would need two additional courts in order for Occidental to host home competitions, since schools must have at least six courts to host matches under NCAA regulations. Tranquada said there are plans to build two courts alongside the four above the Campus Safety offices and loading dock area. “The idea is that they’re on the same level,” Tranquada said, “And that would give us [more] usable space underneath.” 

Student-athlete recruitment stands to benefit from the addition of new tennis courts and a new aquatic center. Manning and Zubrin both stated that a new pool would produce a greater influx of potential swimmers, divers and water polo players. The fact that our current facility for water polo is not even a legal pool is, for a lot of recruits, obviously a turn off,” Zubrin said, “We lose a lot of kids to Pomona and Claremont who would otherwise come here and bring in a higher caliber of student athlete.”

The new aquatic facility would be built alongside Campus Road on the western side of campus next to the Culley Athletic Center. As of now, donors have contributed $2 million for a new pool; however, even the most basic facility would require approximately $7 million. “We do have some money on hand for the pool exactly,” Tranquada said, “What the facility will look like depends on how much money we raise.”

Currently, the project awaits the approval of the Trustees. ”We are in the process of working on something to present to the Board of Trustees,” Athletic Director Hoffman said, “If the board and administration approve then we can present to our biggest supporters to determine if they are interested in investing in this type of project.” 

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