Waldorf University’s indoor turf facility, the Denny Jerome Athletic Center, or DJAC, is a second home to many student athletes. Built in 2009, the DJAC is used on a daily basis by men and women’s golf, softball, baseball, men/women’s soccer, and most recently, men/women’s track and field. With this being the first year of Waldorf University having an indoor track and field program, scheduling practice times at the DJAC has become a bit more complex.
As head coach of the Warrior Track and Field program, Kendrick Clay was faced with the difficulty of providing his athletes practice times and locations that would be productive. “We practice at numerous times throughout the day and practices depend on the events the athletes are training for,” Clay said. Currently, the DJAC is being used by jumpers and throwers.
For Clay, having an indoor turf facility is beneficial because it allows for a better, more efficient surface for athletes to train their throws and jumps. However, he expressed his concern about training times in the DJAC, “I will say that any time a coaching staff has to have multiple practice times throughout the day, regardless of the sport, it is a stretch for the coaching staff.” He continued, saying that recruiting, administration, and even team cohesion could be affected by the practice schedules. “When athletes consistently train at different times than their teammates, it can influence team dynamics.”
Currently, the track and field program practices in the DJAC from 1:30-3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, but with differing class schedules and other student commitments, it is clear that this practice schedule might not be ideal. “My personal hope is that if the Track program grows in participation numbers, as well as other programs on campus, that we see the construction of a field house,” Clay said. To Clay, this field house will be independent of the current John K. and Luise Hanson Fieldhouse and will extend to be a multi-purpose facility, complete with an indoor track and gym. “My feeling is that if our athletic teams reach their ideal participation numbers a different indoor training situation will need to be addressed.”
Mark Clouse, head of the Warrior Men/Women’s Golf team at Waldorf also gave his opinion on the DJAC. “Being able to hone our skills inside during the winter months in a climate controlled environment really helps us to be prepared for our spring golf season. We are able to simulate competitive situations for a sport that is played outdoors.”
Currently the golf team uses the DJAC from 3-4:30 p.m. on Mondays, 4:30-6 p.m. or 5-7 p.m. on Tuesdays, 3-5p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays, and 1-3p.m. on Fridays with a few times switched on certain dates. In comparison to some other athletic teams, golf practices are a little more inconsistent, but Clouse says that the teams have managed to work together and structure the most consistent schedule as possible.
As for challenges in using the DJAC, Clouse said, “Of course it would be ideal to have a larger indoor facility to accommodate more people at the same time.” In that respect, he agrees with Clay about a potential new facility in Waldorf’s future.
Currently the DJAC is being used every day of the week besides Saturday, and the times range from 7:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. at night. Some student athletes have expressed concern about the early times, others have questioned the weekend practices. However, all teams agree that having an indoor turf facility is extremely beneficial, if not necessary, for productive indoor practice.
In the past year, the DJAC has undergone major construction. A wall was knocked down to open up a second room, allowing for teams to use the entire space. For baseball and softball specifically, this has been a huge help, allowing for pitchers and hitters to practice simultaneously, as well as giving baseball pitchers the ability to throw the full pitching distance.
Though there are some difficulties this year with scheduling and working around eight different athletic teams, the DJAC is a facility that allows Warrior athletes to progress and practice during the difficult winter months.
Directly outside of the entrance of the main doors is a schedule, letting athletes know what teams will be using the facility and when. Right now it shows the month of January with teams and times scattered everywhere. For a passerby, it appears to be chaos, but for Waldorf athletes and coaches, this is life—an organized chaos.