It may come as a surprise to some, but life on campus goes on after students leave for their summer activities, and that includes the Penn athletics and recreational programs.
Summer camps are in full swing, and Penn Athletics has switched out its impressive athletes for temporary Quakers eager to showcase their talents. The Coach Dave Micahnick Center is stuffed with students from the Junior Fencing Camp. Following the Collegiate Exposure Camp this past weekend, the Hecht and Hamlin Tennis Center is recovering from the whirlwind of tennis stars. Franklin Field is currently braving a rapid succession of Ray Priore One Day Clinics for potential football champs. These are only a handful of the twenty Penn Athletics camps that pepper the summer months.
For on-campus students itching for a team to join after summer classes or long internship days, Penn Park and Franklin Field lend themselves to the softball intramural league games. Monday through Friday, Quakers can watch or even participate in these games, which include colorfully named teams such as the Isotopes 2, Chocolate Bar Chili, and the CCI Cell Crushers.
Penn’s well-known stadiums have also been utilized by several outside organizations throughout the summer, offering children the chance to play in these historic buildings. For example, on June 1st, the Palestra hosted the After School All Stars (ASAS) Hoop-a-thon, which included a free throw contest and team cheer competition. ASAS is a program for low-income middle school students in the Philadelphia and Camden area that encourages kids to explore various careers in the arts and STEM, and this event helped raise funds to expand ASAS services to other Title I students in the region.
Next door at Franklin Field, the Philadelphia Catholic Youth Organization’s (CYO) Archdiocese Championship track and field meet was held for athletes nine to fourteen years old. Over the summer, these renowned stadiums are open for all ages to compete.
Two substantial construction endeavors restrict several activities this summer but will greatly benefit Penn students this coming semester. Since July 2018, the Ringe Squash Courts have been closed for renovations that will hopefully finish in September. Quakers should expect an additional two courts, fresh updates for year-long use of the facility, and a brand-new name for the center: The Martin and Julie Franklin Squash Courts.
In the meantime, Penn is using the facilities at The Hill School – a coed preparatory boarding school in Pottstown – for their summer squash needs, and will likely return to Drexel’s Kline and Specter Squash Center for training before September.
Penn briefly lost Gimbel Gymnasium as well, which closed completely the week of June 1st for roof renovations and has restricted hours after noon daily for the rest of the summer. While the courts are “tentatively scheduled to reopen fully by the start of July,” according to Penn Campus Recreation, the facilities will continue to be affected until the fall semester. This could potentially interrupt several activities for students looking to exercise in the coming months, whether it be at the basketball courts or the facility’s swimming pool.
However, this renovation may not be as disruptive as some might think, since summer vacation always leads to a massive drop in athletic participation for the obvious reason of a lack of Penn students. With some popular Pottruck exercise rooms barely reaching 20% capacity on a given weekday, and many others empty until closing, there may be some truth to a “Penn pause” in the summer months.
While life at Penn’s athletic facilities has gone on without most of the Quakers, things will be much more lively when students return to campus again at the end of the summer.
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