Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Bad weather and high school teams wore down Cunningham fields over the summer rendering half unusable at the start of the semester. Two of the four Cunningham athletic fields have been closed due to renovations, forcing teams to shuffle up their practice times and locations. Teams are still playing on the other two fields, but those have also been damaged.
Since varsity sports have priority, the men’s and women’s Ultimate Frisbee teams, among others, have been forced to Mertz field, the gym and the varsity baseball field for practice.
“They don’t have much else to give, and they need to give it to varsity sports,” Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Captain Ari Novack ’12 said.
Both the varsity baseball and varsity women’s lacrosse teams occasionally forgo practice to allow club sports to use their fields.
“There’s a lot more collegiality than what is given credit for,” Associate Athletics Director Christyn Abaray said.
According to Abaray, one of the Cunningham fields, the Red Light field, is now back online.
“The point of putting them offline now is so they’ll be better in the spring,” she said. “It would’ve been ideal to leave Red Light offline, but with how many teams needed them, we couldn’t.”
Some teams have been affected more than others.
“Rugby hasn’t been affected that much,” Men’s Rugby President Alan Zhao ’12 said. “We just have to play on a bad field.”
The condition of the rugby field is not as bad as the others, but is not ideal. “There are just squares with ripped out grass,” Zhao said. “The rugby field is being used, so they can’t renovate it.”
According to Novack, Men’s Ultimate Frisbee has been having a difficult time using Mertz field. The hill is sloped and has bad drainage, making practice difficult. Additionally, the men’s and women’s teams share the field once a week.
“It really cuts down on our space and is not desirable,” Novack said. “Our team’s large and we need space to run around, otherwise what’s the point of doing a club sport and getting exercise?”
Zhao and Novack said that the reason the fields had to be closed was because of how they were utilized this summer. The fields held a lacrosse tournament, as well as middle and high school soccer camps. According to Zhao and Novack, they were misused.
“It seems that since [the camps] were temporary, they didn’t have any respect [for the fields],” Novack said. However, according to Zhao, “It’s not the administration’s fault. They didn’t know they’d screw it up. I don’t think they’ll have as many, or not the same, camps next year.”
According to the administration, however, the way in which the fields were treated this summer was not the only thing that necessitated their renovation. “The fields have been utilized like that for years,” said head baseball coach Stan Exeter. He said that the fields were in poor condition not due to the way they were used, but the excess rain. “The weather and rain hurt every field,” he said. The fields had received much more rain than usual this season, especially due to the hurricane.
The most likely case is that it was a mix of both the summer’s sports teams and the weather that rendered the fields unusable. The summer was very dry, said Special Projects staff member Patricia Maloney, and caused irrigation problems. The weather only exacerbated the situation, she said.
“We’re not happy about it, but we’re dealing with it,” Zhao said.