When the Stoller Athletic Center was built, it was designed to house 200 student-athletes.
Currently Pacific is home to more 600 athletes, and while the center was remodeled in 2000, the building remains barely large enough to house half of the athletic student body.
While the staff and athletic administration are constantly trying to find creative solutions to the issues at the Stoller Center, it is clear that the safety of the fitness center, space and environment are lacking the funds and the student voices to be improved.
Athletic Director Ken Schumann tipped his hat to the efforts the staff at the Stoller Center has made to cater to the needs and concerns of the students with the resources available.
Along with the renovations done in 2000, the athletic staff has turned vending machine areas into offices and bent over backwards to accommodate student concerns and needs.
“When you grow as fast as we do, there’s no avoiding certain pressures and barriers,” he said. “But we are doing everything we can to be creative in finding the space to make improvements.”
One of the most concentrated areas of concern, both in size and safety, is the fitness center.
Students are often found crowded around machines and bumping into one another in the cramped space.
Junior Casey Snodgrass said his workout is severely impeded upon because he is too worried about an inexperienced person walking through his set and is too afraid of hurting them to lift maximum weight.
“As a professional strongman from a strong fitness background, it disturbs me the great risk
people are putting themselves at because of a lack of knowledge of how a gym works,” he said.
Intramurals and Recreation Director Skyler Archibald said the center is inadequate in size, supervision, equipment and general culture.
Archibald sees the lack of knowledge about form and safety as a huge problem for the fitness center.
He is currently in the process of hiring people specifically dedicated to being available for the fitness center to supervise and make sure safety measures are being followed.
Archibald and the Stoller Center Staff are also looking at buying new equipment to replace the broken and unsafe machines that are currently being used in the center but he said finding the money to fund the necessary improvements is difficult.
“There will come a time when we can’t make any more changes because it is not fiscally manageable,” Archibald said.
The fitness center is lacking in its ability to cater to non-athletes and people who are not proficient in fitness because the equipment available is primarily free weight.
Because of the lack of easy-access equipment, many students result to improvising or learning incorrect form from their peers.
Snodgrass said he sees this regularly and that it is a major cause of accidents.
“The fact that no one has had a bar through their heads, been jumped on or knocked out is astounding,” Snodgrass said.
To accommodate for the lack of space in the fitness center, Schumann and the athletic staff extended the hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. but the problem of overcrowding has remained a prevalent issue.
Schumann has also received complaints about the locker rooms and the gymnasium being severely overcrowded.
Schumann said Pacific houses the largest number
of student-athletes in the Northwest Conference and holds its top position by a large margin.
In addition to being home to more than 600 student-athletes, the Stoller Center is the central hub for the exercise science program, the largest academic program on campus.
With such exponential growth, Schumann said his staff tries to stay ahead but sometimes finds themselves behind the curve.
“We just don’t always have the money to spend that we need.”
Schumann explained the Strategic Plan for the Stoller Center, in which an additional building will be built on the east side of the center to mainly house the exercise science program.
He said moving them out of the Stoller Center will free up space to expand the athletic spaces.
Unfortunately, there is no money to make this addition and Schumann said he is unsure when a donor will step up and contribute.
Schumann stressed the importance of a focus on the expansion of the athletic depart as a benefit to all departments on campus.
With 40 percent of the student body being student-athletes and 90 percent of those student athletes having been drawn to pacific because of recruitment, the need for an impressive facility has never been higher.
Archibald said one of the most important features of a university to potential students is the athletic facility, and improving it will bring more students to campus and improve the standard of living as a whole.
“It’s so important to develop healthy habits while you’re in college,” Archibald said. “If we don’t have the space to do that, we are doing an injustice to students.”
Archibald said he hopes that by making certain changes to the Stoller Center, it will create a more welcoming and encouraging environment for students of all backgrounds and skill levels.