Opening Day Enthusiasm for the Center for Athletics, Recreation and Wellness

Students cheering for volleyball team

Even as fall break began, students streamed in to work out in the fitness center of the new Center for Athletics, Recreation and Wellness as it officially opened on October 14, and an enthusiastic crowd cheered on Pomona-Pitzer women’s volleyball in a sweep of Occidental in Voelkel Gym that night.

“I really like it,” says Liam Lynch ’25, pausing during an afternoon weightlifting session in the nearly 6,000 square-foot Draper Public Fitness Area, surrounded by windows on three sides. “I just think it’s really beautiful, and very open, which is nice.”

Shoshi Henderson ’25, the SCIAC Athlete of the Year in women’s lacrosse, was there too, making up for a team lifting session she missed the day before in the shed that had been the temporary home of Sagehen Athletics strength and conditioning during construction. Next week, she and her teammates will start training in the state-of-the-art Athletic Performance Center in the new building.

“I’m super excited,” Henderson says. “This just feels like how it should be when you go to college to play sports. Everything is so professional with all the nice logos, and it just makes you want to work out. I really wanted to come here anyway, but if I had seen this when I was visiting during recruiting, I would have been 100 percent sold.”

College staff members Angel Bradley and Dylan Worcester from the Quantitative Skills Center tried out the weight machines and treadmill on the first day, happy to have the convenience of a workout at work. Thérésa Elhage, a French language resident at the Oldenborg Center, was used to paying to go to a gym in Claremont and marveled at the convenience of a gym on campus.

“It’s a really nice gym, very sunny with a lot of light,” she says. “It’s exciting because in France we don’t put that much money into facilities at universities.”

New Home for Volleyball, Basketball

The volleyball players, until recently forced to make the trek to Harvey Mudd for games and practices, enjoyed having a crowd of students and family on hand to watch them play.

“Everyone’s excited about the new facility,” says Lauren Asato ’23, Pomona-Pitzer’s honorable mention All-American defensive specialist. “We were used to not having very many fans, so it’s really nice to have support and it’s definitely more convenient for everyone else to come here.”

So many students climbed into the stands that Miriam Merrill, director of athletics and chair of physical education, and Alaina Woo ’17, the women’s basketball coach and an assistant professor of physical education, spread out to give them more room. Woo says her players have been so excited that she decided to have them gather for a workout late that night after the game.

“We’re actually having a little midnight madness tonight, mostly because we have a brand new building open today and they were itching to get in it basically at the first possible moment,” she says.

Teams that used to have to share space with another team now have their own locker room when they’re in season, with players’ names on their stalls and a large banner featuring their sport and an image of a Sagehen athlete. For the women’s basketball team, the banner is of Kamil English ’22, a former teammate of many of the players.

“I just watched their eyes the first time they walked in. Seeing them walk in the locker room I think is probably the most exciting thing, because that’s one of the spaces that look so different from what they had before,” Woo says. “They love it.”