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Withrow Woes: Club Sports forced to move pending building demolition

Students and community members struggle to find a replacement for the facility

By Sophie Whorf, For The Miami Student

For senior Jake Cottingim, being president of Miami's Weightlifting Club has made his Miami experience.

"I love it because, like any other club sport, you can connect with people with similar interests."

However, with the pending demolition of Withrow Court, which currently serves as a practice facility for approximately 25 of Miami's 50 club sports teams, many organizations like the Weightlifting Club will be permanently displaced by the end of this school year.

"I was really disappointed that Miami isn't building another space like that," said Cottingim. "They're giving us the Chestnut Field House, but it's not the same."

Senior Lindsay Schweitzer agrees. Schweitzer is the current president of the Gymnastics Club and has been an active participant since her freshman year.

"We were fighting [the demolition of Withrow] from the start," said Schweitzer.

Steve Cady, senior associate athletic director, said Withrow - a building that lacks air conditioning and needed heating and plumbing repairs - was beyond reconstruction.

"Withrow Court was built back in the 1930s and needed millions of dollars worth of upgrades," Cady said. "It was going to cost too much money to repair Withrow, so the final decision was to tear it down."

Cady says the varsity tennis, golf and baseball teams, which were originally based out of Withrow, have found temporary homes.

Although Miami's club sports programs will soon have a new place to call home as well, many teams are disheartened by the demolition, as it will destroy much more than just an 85-year-old structure.

"Everyone is upset the gym is being torn down because it represents a culture and a home base," said Cottingim. "That gym holds a lot of memories. There are records and signatures written on the walls by past members and presidents. It has a lot of sentimental value."

The Weightlifting Club will transition to the Chestnut Field House, which is located near the old Talawanda High School. The Gymnastics Club will move to Sawyer Hall, an abandoned warehouse behind Peabody Hall on Western Campus.

Schweitzer credits Mike Arnos, senior director of programs & academic partnerships at the Recreation Center, with assisting the club sports in finding new homes and making the adjustment as seamless as possible.

Schweitzer says Arnos found homes for club sports in Phillips Hall, the Chestnut Field House and the new Dauch Indoor Sports Center near Yager Center.

"Mike Arnos has been very communicative throughout the whole process," said Schweitzer. "He's been working with us for the past few years."

Cottingim, however, wasn't as satisfied with the new displacements, noting how they aren't as centrally located as Withrow Court.

"A lot of students like Withrow because of its prime location," said Cottingim. "It is very close to where the kids live on campus."

Schweitzer, on the other hand, displayed optimism about her team's transition to Sawyer Hall.

"They're planning on starting renovations soon," said Schweitzer. "It will be a little crammed, but we'll make it ours."

Miami club sports teams haven't officially been removed from Withrow quite yet. Both the Weightlifting Club and the Gymnastics Club will continue to hold practice in the historical gymnasium until the end of April.

"We'll definitely miss it," said Schweitzer. "It's been my home for four years. Thankfully, I don't have to be there for the transition."