The ribbon was cut, the food was eaten and the party is over.
Six months ago yesterday, on Oct. 9, athletes, administrators and alumni gathered on the top floor of the brand new Wyant Athletic & Wellness Center. Situated at the north end of the Village at 115th and DiSanto Field, the Wyant Center was set to serve as a much-needed addition to campus, a second fitness center located closer to the students in the North Residential Village (NRV).
However now that the construction crews are gone and the party has been cleaned up, the shine and excitement has diminished and the “new-building-smell” is definitely gone. Now is the perfect time to step back and analyze the true benefits of this building, and see if this building is serving its purpose.
The biggest benefit of the center has been for student athletes. As President Barbara R. Snyder pointed out during the dedication, the walk to the Veale Center from the NRV is 20-22 minutes depending on the route you take. As any Case Western Reserve University student will tell you, they could all use more time. The Wyant Center provides a time-saving opportunity for those looking to balance fitness and their half a dozen other commitments.
“Wyant saves a ton of time,” said senior Spartan swimmer Eric Haufler. “It used to be a 40-minute walk and now it’s 25 feet, and I’m at the gym.” The Wyant Center boasts the 4,500-square foot Steve Belichick Varsity Weight Room, the 4,200-square foot DiGeronimo Fitness Center as well as the 2,500-square foot Varsity Club on the top floor of the building. All these features were much needed additions for students.
Beyond the convenience factor, the Wyant Center has upheld its goal of furthering the athletic pursuits of CWRU’s student athletes. The varsity teams have already seen improvements in their seasons due to the fitness center.
“We used the weight room twice a week this winter for team lifts, and the space is the perfect size for our group. It has all of the equipment necessary for us to improve physically as well as build necessary team chemistry to be successful,” said men’s soccer head coach Brandon Bianco.
The first teams to benefit, the fall sports, see the building as an invaluable resource.
“The building is aiding our student-athletes in all of their pursuits both on and off the field,” said women’s soccer head coach Tiffany Crooks. “It will continue to be a great resource for us in the fall.”
Furthermore a few coaches mentioned that the shiny new Wyant Center has been a great spot to show potential incoming athletes to show that CWRU, a notoriously academics-focused school, still cares about athletics.
Spring sports have seen the most immediate increase in the benefits during the season. The spaces in the building have allowed softball and baseball teams the ability to combine their workout and practice times in proximity.
“We used to have to all pile into cars after practice and head over to Veale,” said softball head coach Josie Henry. “Most of the time we would just do bodyweight workouts at the field, but there is only so much improvement you can see with push-ups and crunches.”
Wyant Center has provided that space conveniently close to the fields.
In addition to the benefits for the students in terms of athletics and fitness, the upper level provides a new space for campus to use. The baseball team held a Super Bowl party in the Varsity Club, situated on the top floor, and this week the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning scholars are using the room for their recognition ceremony. The outdoor Stu’s Balcony, while remaining rather unused over the harsh winter, hosted pre-game events at the end of last fall season and will likely be a community area in the coming years. Also a phase two has been announced for the Wyant Center, planned currently to house 15,000 square feet of indoor practice space and artificial turf.
However the building is not without some flaws. The entrance is on the opposite side of the building from nearly everywhere on the NRV, which is a minor design flaw and inconvenience. Furthermore losses of time to use the weight room, due to reserved varsity team workouts, will cause a grumble or two when students were planning to work out and find out they need to wait.
“It’s smaller and doesn’t have quite as big of a variety as I typically use, so I just go to Veale,” said sophomore Paul Sulser.
In addition the weight room was missing some vital equipment at the opening of the center. While these weights have since been put in place, there still aren’t a few requested items.
“There are always things that could be improved,” said Haufler. “They could add mirrors in the weight room; that would be a big improvement.”
Another limitation is the need for more storage space for those working out, especially during the winter months when boots and coats need to be stored.
Even though the Wyant Center has lost the shine and excitement that accompanied its opening, it has become an instrumental part of campus. It seamlessly filled a need for the campus community and thus far has no major flaws. The Wyant Center, even six months later when the cracks can start to show, has been a great addition to campus and hopefully will continue to be so for years to come.