Recreation and renovations: athletic department hosts recreation programs, two-story weight room to be added to Wise Center

The Office of Athletics and Recreation is planning improvements to its programs and the Wise Sport and Fitness Center during the 2019-20 school year.

One of the major facilitators of the changes is newly-named Director of Recreation and Facilities Jared Luteran, who was promoted to the recently-created position after Taylor Coffman was hired as head coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams.

“There’s some history of having someone that was dedicated to the recreational side (of athletics and recreation),” said Bill Ross, director of athletics and recreation. “There were a lot of offerings to the students and the campus, (and) we needed to get back to that. Recreation is a very important part of the overall experience on any college campus for students who are not involved on a varsity athletic team. You have to have someone dedicated to doing that.”

After 14 years of coaching Allegheny Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Men’s and Women’s Track and Field, Ross served as the associate director of athletics and recreation services.

“We did a lot of revision with our club sports program, with our intramural program, with the Outing Club,” Ross said. “There was a lot of positive movement. As a staff, we kept shrinking in size, and so I took on more and more roles of athletics. A lot of the recreation was still being offered, but we needed to have somebody who could pay more attention to it.”

Luteran has designed several upcoming recreational programs this fall, including the Backyard Bash — a yard games event after Fraternity and Sorority Life Run-Out from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and a dodgeball competition on Nov. 10.

“We’ve changed our Instagram from @alleghenyintramurals to @alleghenyrecreation so that it’s more-encompassing,” Luteran said. “When people think of intramurals they think of leagues and sports. I want it to be a little more broad. Some of (the planned events) don’t fit into the intramural idea, which is why we’re calling it Allegheny Recreation, so we can do some of the fun, one-day events which seem to be more of the trend on college campuses.”

Luteran, a former adviser of the Outing Club, stressed that the recreation department will be separate from the Outing Club since the department will sponsor several off-campus experiences, such as a trip to Woodcock Lake on April 5.

“(Outing Club) trips will still be overnights, camping, and (they will be) a little bit more rigorous,” Luteran said. “Right now, for us, we’re just doing simple, one-day trips to try to get students off campus.”

Luteran added that these programs will not only benefit non-varsity athletes, but also athletes who may need some time to relax and discover the outdoor recreation that Crawford County provides.

Luteran also said that partnerships and charity work are important to the programming.

“That’s something I’d love to do on campus,” Luteran said. “(I’d love to) partner with organizations on campus, whether it’s (Sorority and Fraternity) Life or another organization that has a special cost, and we can have a fun day but also help a charity.”

Ross noted that Luteran now serves as a point-person for groups to schedule events in the athletic facilities.

Along with new recreation programming, students will see another major change in the athletics facilities.

“With the addition of the two new sports to Allegheny College to the use of the Wise Center and the use of the weight room, we came up with the idea of trying to create some more recreation space for our students because, obviously, the weight room is one room and we keep adding more and more people to the mix,” Ross said.

Renovations to the Wise Center fall under the campus master plan. Ross noted that the racquetball courts have been used less and less for racquetball over the years, prompting them to take the courts offline. Students can already notice the boarded up rooms, which will house a new exercise area, featuring a first-floor weight room for all students to use. The second floor will house the cardio equipment that is currently located in the lobby, and the current weight room will be reverted back into a racquetball court for student use.

“I think that everyone is going to be happy with (the plan), especially with the cardio area being in its own room, and the weight room was glaringly obvious that we needed to have more space,” Ross said. “We weren’t going to blow out walls and add square footage to the current weight room, so this was the next best thing.”

Some students are excited for the changes, including Nathan Loria, ’22.

“I think that the renovations would be super beneficial to me,” Loria said. “I go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so it would be nice to have a less crowded and more complete gym so I can do as much as I want and not worry about running out of capacity. Sometimes the machines get full or all of the barbells are unavailable at the same time.”

The project is already underway, Ross said, and the most time-consuming aspect will be building the second floor. Once the second floor is installed, Ross said he hopes that the project will be completed by the end of October.

“(The new space) will appear brand new, that’s for sure,” Ross added.