Photo from Simpson University Website
By Jacob Greene
Facilities at Simpson University need to be improved before adding new programs and buildings to the campus.
Simpson University has 18 sports teams, plus 3 co-ed, which includes a club team. Out of these teams [Men and Women’s] soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, swimming, track and field, and cross country–at some point–must travel off campus for practice and “home” games.
OFF CAMPUS CULTURE
The Men’s and Women’s soccer teams switch every week between using the Simpson soccer field and the Redding Soccer Park.
“If I have to go to class and we’re practicing at the soccer park, I have class at 6 [p.m.] so I am usually 15-20 minutes late to class,” Sophomore soccer player Christian Valdez said.
ASBSU Freshman representative and swimmer Lana Lucin said that the swim team practices 6 days a week. This means each member must travel off campus 6 times a week for practice. Some teammates choose to carpool to practice to save gas and money. But not all students have access to vehicles.
“It’s just inconvenient–it kinda sucks. If it was here, it’d just be easier. Even though it’s just a 10-minute drive,” said Lucin who does not have access to a car, “It's still just an inconvenience because that 10 minutes could be used studying or finishing up the last sentence or two on homework.”
Football would be the same. Practice would have to be off campus. Games too.
Simpson added a “football team” that it plans to start by the Fall of ‘23. This is in addition to a competitive cheer team.
However, there are major things that need to be done on campus beforehand.
The plan is to change the soccer field on campus to a turf field. This allows it to be multi-functional for soccer and football.
“With turf, the ball moves a lot faster. But, when you’re sliding to make a tackle you always get scraped up on your legs on turf. Personally, I prefer to play on grass. When you slide you don’t get all scabbed up and bloody–it slices you up really good,” Valdez said.
Many players—football with 60 plus and soccer with 30 plus—on any turf have the potential to thrash a field.
“Football players, they will beat the crap out of the field,” Valdez said, “That’s a lot of kids out there. There’s probably gonna be 40-50 and you know if they’re pushing those [push sleds] on our field. It’s gonna mess up the field.”
According to nrpa.org, “Brigham Young University found that ‘The surface temperature of the synthetic turf was 37° F higher than asphalt and 86.5° F hotter than natural turf.’ And, as neuroscientist Kathleen Michels points out: ‘Any temperature over 120° F can cause skin burns with skin contact in two seconds.’”
Valdez, [from Madera, California] agreed.
“I heard someone say it’s up to 15 degrees hotter on a turf field,” Valdez said, “You’re just standing there, running around sweating profusely more than usual. Which sucks.”
THE WEIGHT ROOM
It is not just the fields, it is the weight room, too.
The weight room at Simpson is small. It has a few machines, 2 sets of free weights, 1 treadmill, and 5 squat and bench racks. This cozy shoe-box-size weight room is not large enough for Simpson, even before a football team, which could bring in as many as 60 players the first year. According to the Shasta Community College website, their football team has 87 players, including 2 reserves.
Valdez works out 5-6 times a week. Due to the small size of the gym on campus, Valdez must travel to an off-campus gym if the Simpson gym is full.
“Sometimes I want to focus on specific muscles,” Valdez said, “Machines are the best for that. There’s one treadmill in there. I’ve seen the line be as big as 4 people to get on the treadmill.”
Most athletic teams have time reserved throughout the week. Baseball, a team of about 60 players, has two groups that do weights throughout the week.
Senior baseball player Eric Winchester said, “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the pitchers use the weight room from 5-6 p.m.”
“We [position players] lift every morning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 7-8, there is a second group that lifts Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7 a.m.” senior baseball player Jared Gibbs said (via text message).
HOME BUT AWAY
And then there is the matter of “home” games. The current plan is to play home games at a local high school.
Not all students can travel and go to games off-campus. Last year, when baseball and soccer played off campus, there were about 50 fans for each game off campus. Women’s and Men’s soccer, volleyball, golf, swimming, wrestling, track, and field, as well as cross country occasionally must travel off campus for practices, but also for games.
Last season, the Simpson Baseball team had to play games at Tiger Field–a 13-minute drive time and approximately 7 miles away, according to Google Maps. The soccer teams also play a lot of their games off campus at the Redding Soccer Park.
“There’s parents that take their kids to play with their youth teams. A lot of them will stop to watch games. Which is actually super cool for the kids to see a college program,” Valdez said.
The planned engineering/technology and business center will be a great addition to the campus. The 2-story building—with an auditorium—will be built where the 2 modular classrooms were–next to Grubbs Learning Center.
According to bestcolleges.com, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects engineering occupations to grow 6% between 2020 and 2030. The roughly 146,000 new jobs created in the field over the next 10 years will include positions for professionals specializing in infrastructure, robotics, and renewable energy.”
Another on-campus project is the globe in front of Owen’s Center. It is supposed to spin. However, due to a plumbing issue, it does not.
“We hope to have it installed and running by August ‘23, the project is a little over $100K,” Director of Operations, Paul Davis said via email.
The Simpson globe represents our motto, “Gateway to World Service.”
The baseball field is also under construction. Workers are currently working on the baseball field. Crews have been working on the Red Hawk’s baseball field for over a year. Just this week, the lights and scoreboard went up. Next, a fence and dugout roofs need to be added.
Another addition is the sports bubble. That will be built where the outdoor basketball courts are currently.
Air Structures American Technologies Incorporated (ASATI) is one of the top companies that make these sports domes.
The ASATI website explains how these structures work; “This unique safety network of vinyl-coated cables can withstand the most severe environmental conditions, while the air-tight anchorage system provides even greater stability. Angle bars anchor the cable net and the structure envelope.”
This bubble will contain 3 basketball/volleyball courts. Additionally, it will contain a running track and cage for track and field events. Redding in late summer and early fall is hot, with an average temperature of 86 degrees (Fahrenheit) according to weather-us.com. The dome will include a Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.
THOUGHTS FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The bubble is a short-term answer to a long-term problem.
We have many sports teams that need a gymnasium for practice. We have a gymnasium. Why not improve it rather than building a projected $10 million sports bubble.
I appreciate what Simpson is doing as they look forward to a bright future for all Red Hawks.
In terms of the football program, it is hard to build a culture around something that takes place off campus. Football creates an inviting and infectious culture on college campuses. However, with the program taking place off campus—mostly—it is difficult for students to come together and bond over Red Hawk football.
But, bring on a marching band.
If Simpson were to build a football stadium—since we are going to change the soccer field anyway—why not put that project at the top of the list?
If Simpson wants to rise, we should rise as high as possible. We have the capability and determination to reach the highest levels of success in our programs.
According to bizjournals.com, the average life span of a sports bubble is 15-20 years. In an article written by Brian Rich of The University of Washington, he talks about the life and building integrity of gymnasiums. These buildings—when built and maintained correctly—are expected to last 200 years. This includes slight renovation when needed.
According to costhack.com, it can cost around $900,000 to build the simplest of designs, which would be 4,000 square feet. California Baptist University recently committed $20 million to its athletic facilities. That includes CBU’s Soccer Stadium, baseball and softball fields, Totman and Funk Stadium and new baseball and softball clubhouses. Also under remodel, a CBU Events Center, Van Dyne Gym, and Lancer Aquatics Center according to cbulancers.com.
Numbers do not lie. But Simpson dreams.
If this university is going to dream, let us all work toward being on the same playing field as these other schools. The regime of Simpson is to build up and innovate. Public or private, NAIA or Division I, Simpson has the capability to get where they are because of what Simpson has always done and what they have always been—Simpson Rising.
There are positives and negatives to teams traveling for practices and games. To reach the full potential of Simpson’s facilities, it would be best to improve the current ones before adding new features.
Simpson strives to look ahead to the future and plan accordingly for what will come.
However, some new projects may be best for the future of Simpson–but not necessarily Simpson currently. The regime of Simpson is always adding new ideas and projects that will further the overall appeal of the university.
Simpson should work on improving the current facilities before adding new ones. If we work toward long-term goals, we will succeed eventually. By improving Simpson today, it means that tomorrow will always be a great day to be a Red Hawk.