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A student-athlete wish list, plus some answers

On November 5, 2019

BY HANNAH ALEXIS 

VN STAFF WRITER

For those who have questions on whether or not the Detroit Mercy will be implementing changes in order to facilitate the lives of student athletes, here are some answers.

 

Student lounge

Ana Hinez is a commuter and member of the women’s soccer team.

It’s a 40-minute drive to campus from her house, and she makes this commute every morning to arrive on time for practice, which runs from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

After practice, she’s tired, and simply wants to rest for a little before diving into a long day of classes and assignments.

Technically, she could try to nap in the library, but it’s too open and gets crowded quickly, making it a less than ideal location.

“Having a lounge for athletes would be great,” said Hinez, “especially if it came with a fridge, a microwave and a coffee machine.”

Athletes who live on campus have the choice to go back to their room when they’re exhausted from straining physical activity. Commuters don’t have that option.

Holly Kerstner, Detroit Mercy’s associate athletic director, said that the school is aware of this issue, and there are plans being put in place to address it.

Three spaces in Calihan Hall can be used to create a lounge.

One of them is the “Titan Club,” a space previously open only to V.I.P. Titan fans during basketball games.

In other words, it is rarely ever used.

Kerstner thinks it would be a better idea to use the space for a student-athlete lounge.

“We only need to replace small things, such as the furniture and lighting,” she said. “We might even add bean bags – perfect for the athletes to take naps in.”

Other areas being considered are one of the racquetball courts and the nutrition station.

 

Separate dorms

Jiera Shears and Alex Burr are on the women’s basketball team.

They’ve been living on campus for almost two years.

They said a separate dorm is needed for athletes.

It’s isn’t that they dislike non-athletic students.

They’ve just had a number of unpleasant experiences in the past.

Picture this: 

You’re finally able to lie in your bed after a long day of training sessions, classes, studying and work. It’s 11 pm. You have to wake up the next day at 6 a.m. to do this craziness all over again.

You set your alarms for 5:53, 5:56, 5:59 and 6 a.m. to be absolutely sure you don’t oversleep, especially since showing up late to practice means the entire team will have to run stairs as punishment. And that can’t happen.

You look back at your clock.

It’s 11:03 p.m.

Snuggling against your pillow, you think about how much you’re going to cherish every single second of the next six hours and 50 minutes of sleep.

A few hours later, someone across the hall decides the entire floor should hear her music. It wakes you up. It’s not even good music.

You check the clock, and it’s 2:21 a.m.

Now you’re mad because you need to get out of your warm, comfortable bed to yell at an inconsiderate stranger about how you have an early-morning practice and need proper sleep. You go back to your bed. It’s cold, uncomfortable and now you’re restless because you’re still thinking about how angry you are from being woken like that.

By the time you fall asleep again, it’s already past 4 a.m.

Your alarms go off at 5:53, 5:56, 5:59 and finally at 6 a.m., but you’ve unconsciously turned them all off while you were half asleep.

You eventually wake up, feeling the comforting warmth of the sun on your skin. Then you wonder why the sun’s up so early – isn’t it only 6 a.m.? You check the clock. It’s noon and you’ve already missed three classes, in addition to practice. Damnit.

Situations like these are why many athletes, though not all, tend to want to live in dorms away from non-athletes.

It should also be acknowledged that sometimes even student athletes can get rowdy at night.

Kerstner, the associate athletic director, said that a separate dorm for student athletes wouldn’t be possible any time soon because of certain NCAA rules.

But the school is planning to build new dorms for students, whether athlete or not.

Detroit Mercy has recently purchased the land behind Shiple to build and apartment-style dorms.

“It will be set up in a way that you would share a bathroom with only one person, and then share a kitchen with three,” said Kerstner.

There are plans for Shiple and the Quads to be renovated as well.

 

Intermingling teams

Yet, another reason why Jiera Shears and Alex Burr want athletes to stay in separate living quarters is because they see a need for teams to intermingle.

They said there haven’t been enough opportunities to do so.

“We see athletes from different sports every day, but none of us really know each other and never really go to each other’s games,” said Shears.

Added Burr, “It would be cool if we could organize a game night or even a lock-in sleepover for athletes to play mini games, compete against each other, have fun and socialize.”

They came up with the idea for teams to switch coaches for a day.

A mix of soccer, golf and track players could be coached by the basketball coaches.

Another mix of fencing, cross country and lacrosse players could be taught how to play softball or soccer.

This way, coaches and athletes across sports will have the opportunity to get to know each other better.

They may also develop an understanding and learn to appreciate the each other’s sports more as a result.           

These ideas are doable, according to Kerstner. A plan simply needs to be set in motion.

 

Bigger locker rooms

When asked what she thinks the school can change to make the lives of softball players a little easier, Taryn Peru had an idea.

“I wish we had a bigger locker room,” she said.

Last year, the softball team had as many as 27 people share one locker room similar to the size of a single room plus a bathroom in the Quads, according to players.

Picture yourself attempting to host 20-plus people in your room.

Calling it “crowded” would be an understatement.

To make things worse, softball players’ large individual equipment bags take up just as much space as a person.

Kerstner said not to worry.

The school is thinking about building locker rooms along the outside of the soccer field.

It may add bathrooms as well.

“We want to have more of a ‘stadium’ experience,” she said.

This would open space for other teams to expand their locker rooms.

 

Priority class selection

Last but not least, Willy Isiani of the men’s basketball team and Dana Vitae on the softball team would both like for student-athletes to get priority choosing classes.

Student-athletes often find themselves having to skip classes in order to travel out of town for games, which usually take place in the evening.

Morning classes fill up quickly, leaving many athletes with later classes.

A few professors may try to argue that non-athletic students have jobs after school, making them just as busy as student-athletes.

Yet, the reality is that job shifts can easily be rescheduled while NCAA games can’t.

Student-athletes care tremendously about their academics, and it’s devastating for them to be behind in school work as a consequence of their classes conflicting with their games.

If student athletes were given a priority in choosing classes, attendance would be far more consistent, and grades would improve as well. Who wouldn’t want student-athletes to do well in school?

Kerstner hopes for change to happen, but she said the decision isn’t hers to make.

 

Extended food hours

Christian Stallworth of the men’s lacrosse team would like for food on campus to be accessible for longer periods of time.

For most of the fall season, the team has had practice during the week from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Titan Dining Room closes at 7 p.m.

“I would either have to sprint to TDR right after practice or eat a burger and fries at The Loft, which is really unhealthy,” said Stallworth.

The men’s basketball team faces this problem, too, especially on Fridays, as TDR closes an hour earlier than usual.

Kerstner said she understands that this is a big issue for many athletes.

“I’m pushing for healthier food options to be served at The Loft, like grilled chicken wraps, since they have extended hours,” she said.

She is also looking into the possibility of creating a “refrigerated food” area in Calihan Hall, similar to the one in the library.

Students who have suggestions regarding what Detroit Mercy can do to improve student-athletes’ lives may email Kerstner at kerstnhl@udmercy.edu.

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