Four Steps To Maximize Athletic Facilities
By Tom Gioglio
Editor’s Note: This article addresses how athletic facilities at educational institutions, which often serve as the host venue for a variety of sporting events, can be better utilized through the establishment of and adherence to facility management guidelines.
Across the nation, athletic departments are enhancing their sport offerings in order to provide additional participation opportunities for their students. At first glance growth is very positive; however, after closer analysis, most high schools and universities rarely build or expand their existing facilities to accommodate the new teams. This can be extremely difficult for the administrator who has the responsibility for oversight of facility scheduling, which include but are not limited to classes, intramurals, practices and competitions. The following four strategies will be very valuable to athletic administrators, activity directors and sport/event/recreation managers when scheduling multiple activities in a shared athletic facility, regardless of whether the facility is indoors or outdoors.
1. Develop Policies And Procedures
It is essential to include in your policy manual a priority facility usage procedure. When creating policy and procedures, one must keep in mind the organization’s philosophy, the athletic department’s mission and equity. The following is a sample policy that has been utilized successfully at many institutions that share one facility:
Academic classes and laboratory experiences have priority scheduling (some organizations restrict class scheduling from 8 am to 4 pm).
Sport team practices will be conducted in a two-hour maximum time block and not less than one hour (some institutions restrict sport team practices from 6 am to 8 am and from 4 pm to10 pm).
Sports competing in their championship segment season have priority scheduling. If multiple sports are in their championship segment season, prime hours will be alternated between men’s and women’s sports.
After all sports in the championship segment season have been accommodated, men’s and women’s sports in their non-championship segment will be rotated in the facility usage schedule equally. Sports whose scheduling request cannot be accommodated will have priority during the next day’s available open block.
For athletic departments that are defined by tiers or levels, practice and event scheduling will also be prioritized based on the team’s status.
Intramurals/recreation activities will be accommodated last or between the hours of 10 pm to midnight.
2. Increase Communication
Successful administrators recognize that conducting periodic meetings with all requesting constituents and developing a master schedule will minimize facility-scheduling conflicts. It is also extremely valuable to utilize a computer software facility-scheduling program. The features and components that the software provides will allow the scheduling administrator the ability to accurately detail and post events in a timely and efficient manner.
3. Operate As A Team
Instilling a team concept into the constituents of those who request use of the facility will help decrease facility-scheduling conflicts. Facility requestors must channel the energy and dedication used to achieve success in their programs for the good of the team. All personnel must realize that there will be days that their facility request will not be accommodated. On these days the requestors must exhibit flexibility and understanding.
4. Utilize Alternative Training Methods
Flourishing athletic departments make use of alternative training methods for sports on days when their facility request is unable to be accommodated. The following alternative training methods have also been recognized to enhance the student athlete’s physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being:
• Strength training and conditioning activity.
• Academic study session.
• Community service activity.
• Rest day.
Facility-scheduling conflicts will always exist especially when there are multiple sports sharing one athletic facility. Adopting policy and procedures, increasing communication, operating as a team and utilizing alternative training methods will reduce facility-scheduling conflicts when multiple teams have to share one facility.
Tom Gioglio is currently in his fifth year as the director of athletics at East Stroudsburg University and in his 25th year in intercollegiate athletics.