The jury’s out on recreational courts

Recently damaged courts to remain closed while task force assembles

By Olivia Valkner, Staff Writer

Xavier is launching a task force to assess the utilization of outdoor recreational sports areas, specifically the outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts.

While students continue to use the sand volleyball courts, the adjacent basketball courts remain closed due to damage inflicted upon the turnstile gate this summer. The gate was frequently used to climb over the courts’ fence and subsequently broke.

The basketball courts were built in 2010, and before the fence was installed, people from the surrounding community frequently used the space. The courts have been a point of contention among students, faculty and the surrounding community for many years. 

Vice President of Risk Management Jeff Coleman offered insight on the history of the courts and the decision to build a fence. 

“We began receiving complaints from students in 2013 that they were not able to use the courts because they were often too crowded. We were also experiencing a growing number of safety incidents at the courts,” Coleman explained. “To address these issues, we formed a team consisting of students, community leaders and Xavier staff… Based on the recommendation of this team the fence was constructed in 2014.” 

Associate Provost and Chief Student Affairs Officer Dave Johnson is assembling the new task force.

“The goal of the task force is to evaluate and propose ideas for how to enhance Xavier’s outdoor recreational spaces,” Johnson said. “The task force will be charged to evaluate and make recommendations for how these areas can best support student recreation and, where possible, meaningfully serve community partners.” 

“The vandalism, coupled with ongoing concerns about student safety, as well as our evolving recreational needs and assets highlighted the need to engage our community in a larger conversation around future uses of outdoor recreational space on campus,” Johnson added.  

The action and inaction from the university leaves students wondering what the future of the recreation space truly looks like, whether that be a facelift or complete reinvention and repurposing of the space.

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer
Tucked behind Buenger Hall and beside the R1 parking lot, the recreational basketball courts have been closed for several months. A task force is now forming to determine the future of this space.

Luke Starrs, a sophomore exercise science major involved in club basketball, shared his perspective on the current recreational basketball spaces available on campus.

“There are often a bunch of people at the courts in the Health United Building (HUB). You sometimes have to sit out a game just because there isn’t enough space,” Starrs said. “If there is an additional three courts, then there can be more playing time potentially.”

He also pointed out that students who wish to play at the HUB are limited to the HUB’s hours.

“On Labor Day, we couldn’t play since the HUB was closed. Since (the other courts) are outside, we can go whenever we want,” he added.

“Before any decisions are made regarding changing the space, they should let students play on the courts to see if they even like it. I’ve never played on those courts because I am a sophomore, and they have been closed ever since I have been here,” he concluded.

Lizzie Jira, junior nursing major and intramural volleyball enthusiast, appreciates the recreation space and the current state of the volleyball courts. 

“You could just walk down and just join a game and meet all types of people,” she said. “I met a lot of my friends playing sand volleyball, and we still play to this day.”

Jira expressed that she wishes to see some improvements to the courts. 

“The nets are sagging, and there are a few spots that could use some more sand,” she said. 

Ultimately, the decision will be left up to the task force, which will seek student perspective in the decision-making process. 

“We made the decision to wait until students returned so they could be engaged in a process of fully evaluating our options,” Johnson said. 

For the time being, the courts remain closed and the nets are indefinitely removed from the hoops to discourage use of the space. 

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer
The turnstile gate of the outdoor, recreational basketball courts (photographed above) was damaged during the summer after individuals repeatedly used the gate to climb into the locked courts.