ARC attracts athletes

Varsity teams use Queen’s Centre as a selling point to recruit top prospects

Athletic therapy rooms in the Queen’s Centre’s ARC are one of the features of the $165-million facility.
Athletic therapy rooms in the Queen’s Centre’s ARC are one of the features of the $165-million facility.

As athlete recruiting season kicks into high-gear, coaches are having an easier time wooing coveted student-athletes.

Women’s basketball head coach Dave Wilson said showing prospects the facility has been a deciding factor for many.

“[The recruits] saw the facility and it turned their heads. They were wavering between Queen’s and another school and I have to believe the facility was what sold them,” he said. “The kids that are interested in Queen’s already know about our academics. It takes things that distinguish you from other universities. And we’ve got the best basketball gym in the country.”

The $165-million facility opened on Dec. 1 complete with a 38x25 metre swimming pool, 13 specialized fitness rooms, two gymnasiums and an improved food court. The athletics department had been showing recruitment prospects a three-dimensional model of the Centre prior to its completion.

Wilson said the miniature rendition didn’t have the same impact as an actual tour.

“You couldn’t gain the scope of it when we had the models and the drawings,” he said. “When I actually toured people through, the reaction and the things that came out of people’s mouths was much more enthusiastic.”

Wilson said one of the most significant differences between the new facility and the old PEC are the therapy rooms.

“It blows people away,” he said. “The athletic therapy rooms actually really appeal to athletes and parents because they knew you were taking care of their kids.”

Football head coach Pat Sheahan said the Queen’s Centre represents a strong commitment to athletics from the University.

“[The PEC] raised some doubt in the eyes of high profile athletes about how serious we are in athletics,” he said. “Our emphasis on athletics should be reflected in the schools’ philosophy and in everything we do.”

Men’s volleyball rookie Brett Walter said the Queen’s Centre made his decision to come to Queen’s easy.

“It was a huge factor, I won’t lie,” he said. “I had thought about Western, Laurier and a little bit about McMaster or going out west, but with Queen’s being one of the best schools already and then putting in one of the best facilities … in the province sealed the deal for me.”

Walter said if he hadn’t been shown plans for the new facility, it would have complicated things.

“It would have made my decision harder,” he said. “Spending so much time in the gym, you want a facility that would make the experience that much enjoyable.”

Walter said he didn’t feel cheated by the facility’s delay. It was originally scheduled to open in September.

“It wasn’t so bad for me because it gave me a chance to get a feel for the PEC and appreciate the ARC that much more.”

While the Queen’s Centre acts as a significant draw for court sports, the University’s continued lease of the Memorial Centre means some programs aren’t as excited as others.

The Queen’s Centre’s original plans included an ice rink, but in a cost-saving move, it was removed from Phase I. Phases II and III of the project are on hold indefinitely.

Rookie forward for the men’s hockey team Jordan Mirwaldt said the biggest impact of having the team’s home arena a kilometer away is fan support.

“It would definitely be nice having the rink in the new Queen’s Centre. It would draw more fans having it on campus,” he said. “It’s kind of demoralizing. We’d like to have more people there.”

Mirwaldt said the new facility was appealing, but he wanted to play for Queen’s because of its academic reputation and a guarantee for playing time.

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