Out with the old, in with the new

By Chris Jurmann

Following the first weekend of athletics in the Convocation Center, freshman undeclared major Melissa Monk summed up the Victor E. Court the best. “It’s really nice,” she said.

No, this wasn’t the unbridled enthusiasm one would hope to find after viewing the weekend’s three volleyball games, but it could have been a lot worse.

The newness and cleanliness of the near-perfect court almost seemed a little un-NIU-like, keeping many fans from truly appreciating it.

In fact, after being at the stadium, there almost seemed to be a few more complaints than there were compliments.

“This doesn’t seem as intimate as [Chick Evans] fieldhouse,” senior tennis player Erica Heshelman commented. “You only have about 12 people on the ends and the bleachers seem a little farther away.”

Other students agreed with Heshelman about the removal of the bleacher seats that made up the sides of the court. Each end of the court was a popular place at Chick Evans for both students and the band.

Along with volleyball, the 800-seat Victor E. Court also will house most of this year’s wrestling matches.

As time goes by and the newness wears off, NIU can view the Convocation Center as home instead of looking back at Chick Evans for Huskie memories.

“There’s not much tradition in this building,” Heshelman added. “Hopefully we can continue and build a tradition here.”

After hearing from the fans, it was time to get the team’s perspective on what it was like at the new arena. Jen Scarpino, who played on the team last year, gave her thoughts on the similarities and differences of the two gyms.

“There’s actually more similarities between the two. They’re both smaller, the crowd is closer to you and it’s going to be really loud in this gym too, once everyone gets here.”

The new stadium and excitement surrounding it was enough to make Scarpino wish she had eligibility left.

“If I could put on a jersey and run in there, I’d do it in a second,” Scarpino said.

The Huskies averaged just under 425 students per match for the weekend.

Although the turnout wasn’t what it should be for defending MAC champions, NIU volleyball coach Ray Gooden wasn’t disappointed in the turnout. “Being a holiday weekend, I don’t think it was a bad crowd,” he said.

Gooden seemed very enthusiastic as to the prospects of what a gym full of fans would bring.

“I know as we progress throughout the season there’s going to be a much bigger fan base for our students,” Gooden said. “With the band there also, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun in there.”

The players admitted they had an adjustment to make with the new court.

“It took some getting used to,” senior Tenisha Wilkins said. “We were only in here for a week before we actually had to play. It’s just a new place, that’s all.”

There was one basic luxury that both Wilkins and senior Jen VonderHaar were happy to see. “The air conditioning is nice,” Vonderhaar said as Wilkins agreed.

As the first events of the weekend are over and the volleyball team gets ready for its next match, everyone seems ready to move the focus past the gym and back to volleyball.

“Everybody’s getting used to it. The fans are getting used to it, we [the team] all got used to it this weekend,” Gooden said. “For the next tournament, everyone should be pretty much accustomed to it. It’ll feel more like home for everyone.”