The Bill Henry Track and the Payton Jordan Athletic offices adjacent to Patterson Field have both been recently renovated. The offices were completed in early February, and the track immediately after winter break. Student-athletes are already using the track, and coaches are gradually moving into their new offices. Coaches, student-athletes and administrators praise the improvements.
Director of Facilities Tom Polansky said the old track was poured prior to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games for competing Olympic teams to train and had been redone in 2002. Polansky said Robert Bartlett, the head coach of the track and field and cross-country teams had suggested a complete renovation a few years ago. Bartlett said via email that track surfaces typically last for twelve years, but the old track had been in use for seventeen years. Allison Kilday (senior), one of the captains on the women’s track and field team, said via email that Bartlett suggested the track and field team run in specific lanes on the track because other lanes were too worn to be used.
“Before the resurface, the two innermost lanes were so worn down that our coaches encouraged us to run in the outer lanes to avoid injury from the hard surface,” Kilday said via email.
Polansky added that project manager Greg Ochoa and around a dozen workers worked through a complicated procedure to renovate the tracks during winter break. Polansky said workers took off ten millimeters of track, ground it down and re-layered it with rubber, then poured barrels of synthetic material on top of the sub-base. Finally, they added the granules and painted the lines and the numbers. Areas around the steeplechase, the long jump and the pole vault were also refurbished, according to Polansky.
Kilday said via email she feels invincible on the track now and that this improved infrastructure can probably attract more elite teams to come and practice as well as incentivize prospective student-athletes to choose Occidental. For example, Kilday notes that the elite Chinese national team raced in the Oxy Distance Carnival March 9. Bartlett adds that there will be better energy returns from the track, and this will likely reduce chances of injuries.
Compared to the newly renovated tracks, the revamped Athletics offices were planned much earlier and took much longer and more workers to build. According to Polansky, Occidental faculty started to envision new athletic offices even before his arrival in 2003. The new offices were completed in a nine-month span between June 2018 to March 2019. About two dozen workers, the office project manager Daniel Kaye and the Pasadena-based Gonzalez Goodale Architects all worked together to reconstruct the old office. Previously undiscovered hidden structures challenged Polansky and his team during the renovation.
“We were surprised by some of the constructions that [were] underneath the plaster. So we had to add a few more structural elements we didn’t count on doing,” Polansky said. “But nothing that threw us off too much.”
The new office will become the workspace for the incoming athletic director, Shanda Ness, who started March 11. Additionally, most athletic coaches will have their own office areas. Some coaching staffs in events such as basketball, baseball and track and field will remain in their original offices.
Bartlett and Kilday also liked the new offices. Bartlett believes the office overall is much better than the previous one, especially with the natural light and exposed ceilings. Kilday agrees that the new office looks beautiful and added that this modern renovation can boost athletic team morale and attract future athletes.
“When recruits see a newly surfaced track, renovated offices, and a pool and tennis courts in the works, it really shows them that Oxy cares about its athletes and takes athletics seriously,” Kilday said.
According to Polansky, donors funded a substantial amount of these renovations.
“Usually, most of these larger projects, there’s some fundraising components to them. If we’re not able to fundraise the entire cost of the project, then the college contributes.” Polansky said. “I think we raised half the cost of the track through Jonathan [Veitch] and his office and the IA [Institutional Advancement] office.”
Future construction plans include remodeling the athletic locker rooms and a face renovation of the chemistry department building, Polansky said.