Elmen free for use on a weekend

Short girl

Squishy McWaddle

Elmen goes a weekend without middle school volleyball tourney

It started out like any other Saturday morning. Senior Kelsey Dice woke up early like all previous weekends, ready to run out her frustrations on the treadmill.

“No one can use the track on weekends because the Elmen is always hosting a tournament of some sort,” she said. “You have to get to the weight room early if you want a treadmill, because they fill up fast.”

She drove the short jaunt to the Elmen from Tuve Hall, but, when she got there, there was something noticeably different.

“I found a parking space in the first row,” Dice said. “I didn’t know what was going on, but I didn’t ask questions. Normally on a weekday you have to circle the parking lot once to find a spot, but if it’s a weekend forget about it—you’d have better luck getting a tuition discount.”

Dice, along with other Augustana students, walked into a silent Elmen Center.

No Learn to Swim children running around.

No middle school volleyball parents dropping popcorn on the floor.

No high school basketball tournaments.

Silence.  

“I like to play basketball with my friends on the weekend,” junior Robbie Miller said. “Normally we have to wait until 8 or 9 p.m. to avoid events but when I found out that no one was using the gym I ran over with my friends.”

Once word got out that there were no events in the gym, students rejoiced and met their friends for a quick pick-up game or to stretch their legs out on the track.

“Because we squeeze every ounce of revenue out of the Sioux Falls community we can, we’re usually packed,” said senior Elmen Center worker Avery Gaboury. “But when people started showing up with their friends to use the basketball courts, track and  pool,  it got crazy.”

Director of Recreational Services Mark Hecht said he feels Augustana students get the most use out of the track during the week, Monday through Friday 6:30-8 a.m. and 9-11 p.m.

Mark Hecht“I wouldn’t say that students have a limited time to use the track,” Hecht said. “But I believe that helping the community with their events is a worthy cause. There’s plenty of space in the weight room for treadmill use, and we just a bought a new treadmill to help with the overcrowding.”

Not only were the track facilities empty, but so was the pool. Normally the pool is in operation for only a few hours each day for students. Those participating in the “Recreational Services Summer Shape Up” could finally get in some swim time.

“Normally the pool is only open early in the morning or in the middle of the day when everyone is still in class,” Gaboury said. “It’s fun to watch people actually use the pool instead of falling asleep while swimming at 6:30 in the morning or 10 at night.”

Although students found the taxpayer free Elmen strange, they are hoping to have more weekends like this in the near future.