Fieldhouse facilities draw students

By Sara Adams

More than 250 students are taking advantage of the new facilities at the Chick Evans Field House nightly, while the Rec Center – during peak hours – averages between 800 and 900 students.

“As soon as it starts to get colder, we expect numbers to increase,” said John Sweeney, director of the Office of Campus Recreation.

Students with their NIU OneCard can use the fieldhouse’s facilities from 4 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday. These hours have received positive feedback from students, Sweeney said. The fieldhouse does not have weekend hours.

“Those hours are the times when the Rec Center is busiest,” Sweeney said. “The Rec Center is pretty slow throughout the day, so it doesn’t make sense to have two facilities open when one can accommodate the students.”

The fieldhouse serves students in a variety of ways.

During the day, the facility is used for physical education classes, athletic team practices and ROTC programming. The fieldhouse also has two smart classrooms where academic classes are held.

The fieldhouse’s first intramural soccer season is coming to a close, as the playoffs are being held this week through next week. About 50 teams signed up with an average of 10 players per roster, Sweeney said.

“We’re extremely happy with the turnout,” said Galen Mahle, coordinator of Intramural Sports at NIU. “We exceeded last year’s numbers by six teams, and I think we will continue to grow in the future.”

The growth in numbers has something to do with the opportunity to use the new rinked courts at the fieldhouse instead of the Rec Center.

“Not having a real soccer facility turned off the more competitive soccer players,” Mahle said.

Though some have been maxed out for the time being, the program is looking to expand for every sport in every season, Mahle said. Indoor soccer, floor hockey, basketball and volleyball will grow in the future because of the new court space at the fieldhouse.

“Everything at the fieldhouse is going really well,” Sweeney said. “It’s a great addition to our campus.”