The Vanguard University Pit has been a part of the Lion legacy since the 1940s.
The pit was home to many teams from our athletic department including Women’s and Men’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling, and Stunt.
Since its destruction this past school year, the university has been awaiting and anticipating the brand new Freed Center, which will be home to our new sports facilities and kinesiology classrooms.
With all due excitement, our university has been facing some adversity during this new transition period, especially within athletics itself and overall student turnout for athletic events and attendance of off-campus “home games”.
The pit was used alongside facilities such as the forum to conduct many practices. There was a place and time for every team, but now teams are one after the next, or sharing the same spaces at once.
In an interview with Coach Leslie Allen, we discussed how her team, Vanguard Stunt, has been personally affected by this recent change.
“It’s a challenge not only for the athletic department, but for the athletes to continue from covid years, to everyone sharing one spot. For us we don’t have any home games this year and so we’re definitely missing that atmosphere and flexibility.”
Without its presence, the athletic department’s coaches and head director Jeffery Bussell, have had to rework not only many teams practice times, but the facilities in which they would conduct them.
Teams are stepping on one another’s toes with back to back with practice schedules, and we even have some teams practicing weekly in our church, the Seymour Sanctuary.
“I think the practice times are just different, it’s a whole different feel. We have teams going from 6am and teams don’t finish now until around 10 pm due to the new schedules.”
Athletic trainers are also now asked to occasionally stay later than before to care for these students due to the changes in times since our athletic department has also lost all their original offices due to the Pit’s absence.
Since the loss of the old gym, the athletic training room has moved all the way over by the university Mail Center, as these used to all be connected and built within the Pit.
The most obvious discrepancy this school year has been the overall student turnout for games, with little-to-no students going to or even knowing where games were to be held.
Bussel said: “We are blessed to have our partnership with schools such as Calvert Chapel High School and OCC (Orange Coast College) to allow us, and work with us to host games, but it is hard to get everyone on the same page on where everything is taking place.”
The student engagement and turnout for athletics is a huge aspect in our campus’ atmosphere. Yet, students are not feeling motivated to leave or engage in spectating at games for many reasons; mainly inconvenience.
Kaitlyn Prickett, a commuter, states: “If I’m already driving to school, I don’t want to drive to another place off campus to go to a sporting event. It’s a lot more driving that I don’t necessarily have to do especially if its in the opposite direction on which i drive home.”
The Pit is what provided the student body with the most inconvenience because of where it was; not only helping on-campus students, but also commuters as well. It was also especially convenient when it came to parking with its parking lot now demolished for space to build the new facility. There were no worries about losing your parking spot, or getting a spot at all when coming to coach your team or your daily job in the office. No back to back practice or holding practices in the schools church and sanctuary, and no worrying whether or not someone will show up to your games.
To many student-athletes and the general student population here at Vanguard, this can be discouraging, but the student engagement is a huge deal. This department has been trying their best accommodate to these changes in the game atmosphere.
It can be hard wanting be engaged in many athletic events if the gain is less than the sacrifice. So, why the Freed Center if it’s causing so much trouble? Is it worth the wait?
Good things take time, and with the new state of the art facility on the way, our university is going to be providing not only student-athletes with the best experience possible, but also all of our staff and academic students a great game day and class experience as well.
Coach Allen says: “The idea was that Vanguard provides a wonderful experience, but the facilities didn’t always match that, so we are trying to provide an even more positive experience as a whole.”
Student engagement is working hard to increase over the spectator count with various Roar events, and special incentives to convince more students to support our athletic teams. The university is even working hard to accommodate the parking and transportation issues due to off campus home games with a the new Vanguard Shuttle that will be picking up students from the university’s Mail Center on game days. Their mission is to provide is an easy way to get out students from place to place efficiently and safely.
With efforts like these we can bring the student engagement up and have the old atmosphere similar to what the pit provided us with. Even with these current adversities, Vanguard is still doing their best to provide students with a great experience and, thanks to wonderful people such as Evelyn Freed, we are able to add to that. Overall, the university is so excited for the new upgrade being provided to us!
For more information regarding the Vanguard Shuttle and all their updates, follow @thevushuttle on Instagram.