This article originally appeared in the winter 2017 issue of Harker Magazine.
On Aug. 18, 2017, Harker history was made as the new athletic center opened its doors to the public. The 33,000-square-foot facility boasts a 12,000-square-foot gym floor that allows two games to be played side-by-side simultaneously. The court, named after former school president Howard Nichols, will host volleyball and basketball games, as well as meetings and other school events. The facility seats 900 spectators, which is the required minimum to host a Division 4 CCS event, and also is big enough to hold the entire upper school student body.
When asked what the most impressive aspect of the new building is, Mike Bassoni, facilities director, stated, “The ease and flexibility of gym usage. The bleachers can be retracted completely or be extended just enough to meet the needs of a smaller competition. The volleyball and basketball standards that drop from the ceiling make for quick transition from student meetings to competitive matches. Very well thought out.” Dan Molin, upper school athletic director, concurred, and added, “What I’m most excited about is the increased sense of community.”
Overlooking the gym floor is a 1,400-square-foot multipurpose room, which gives the cheer team a much-needed practice space, but also allows an area for other clubs and teams to work out. The sliding barn door mirror also allows for a unique view of the action below.
The athletic teams now have state-of-the-art locker rooms complete with name placards for varsity athletes, customized Harker benches and projectors for film review. It’s a far cry from the bathrooms and old storage shed the teams had been using. “My favorite part of the building is the team locker room,” said volleyball player Lauren Napier, grade 12. “Being able to take showers after practice is really nice and our varsity lockers have so much space for everything we need.”
The hidden jewel of the new athletic center might be the training room. In addition to brand new Harker-emblazoned equipment, the training room boasts a HydroWorx 300 underwater treadmill, normally used by NFL teams and orthopedic hospitals; it is a first at any high school in the country. Athletes can also use the Grimm Scientific cryotherm pool to help heal injuries.
The athletic center definitely has made a positive impact on those in and out of the Harker community. Parents, visiting teams and admission open house attendees have delighted in the beauty of our new building. “There has not been a single person who has walked into the athletic center thus far who hasn’t been completely amazed,” exclaimed Theresa “Smitty” Smith, varsity volleyball coach, and lower and middle school athletic director. “The ‘wow factor’ is huge!”
Molin noted, “We recently had an alumni basketball game, and some of the players haven’t been on campus since they graduated in 2006. They were absolutely blown away by our athletic transformation.”
The girls volleyball team broke in the new facility with a scrimmage against St. Francis High School early on Aug. 18, before the community grand opening. Since then, the center has become a welcome part of the Saratoga campus landscape. “Even though it is brand new, it was awesome to already fill the new facility with so many memories,” said Napier.