By Matthew Denhartigh
The Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse is open now for business. However, there are new rules in place you will need to know about the fieldhouse and how to access its facilities.
“We are open to students, faculty and staff,” says Fieldhouse Director Whitney Marsh when asked about the current state of the fieldhouse.
The fieldhouse which had been shut down for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic is back up and running with many new rules and regulations.
“We have moved to appointment only workout timeslots,” Marsh said. “Now it is more of a scheduled process. Students, faculty, and staff members have to log onto our website and schedule a 45-minute to an hour workout timeslot.” This is a major change to the fieldhouse procedure, previously students, faculty and staff could come and go as they please but not anymore.
Currently, the facilities are only open at 25% capacity due to health guidelines, but Marsh hopes they can open to more people as soon as possible.
The fieldhouse staff have reopened both the fitness center and the aquatic facility, but have yet to open the free weight room or arena, due to social distancing concerns.
With the opening of the fitness center came a number of new guidelines and rules.
“You do have to wear a mask the entire time you are inside the building,” explains Marsh. “This includes working out on a treadmill or on any other kind of workout machine. The only time you do not need to be wearing a mask is when you are physically in the water of the pool.” This is a must-follow guideline as GRCC and it is the staff’s wish to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through this mask-wearing process.
Not only do the students, faculty and staff who use the fieldhouse facilities have to wear their masks, but they are also encouraged to sanitize their equipment with the provided sanitation wipes, wash their hands frequently, and try not to touch their face. It is very important to the staff of the fieldhouse that those who use the facilities follow these guidelines and practice safe social distancing procedures.
In addition to the new COVID-19 guidelines, there are many other changes that have occurred at the Ford Fieldhouse.
“In our fitness center we have a 45-minute time slot for people to come in and work out every hour,” Marsh explained. “There are time slots from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., and then from 9:45 a.m. till 10 a.m., we remove all the people that were working out. We then have a sanitation sprayer that our staff uses to go in for those 15 minutes and sanitizes the equipment, and also sanitizes any high touch point areas, such as tables, doorknobs, and door handles.”
This is one way in which the fieldhouse staff has managed to keep the facilities clean and COVID-free.
While the Fieldhouse is home to many different exercise facilities, it is also home to the Raiders basketball and volleyball teams. While major changes have taken place within the fieldhouse facilities, other major changes have occurred for the GRCC Raiders sports teams. Most of the Raider team’s seasons have been delayed already, but some teams are finally getting their season underway. While the Gordon Hunsberger Arena is not open quite yet to the public, it has been opened up for the Raider volleyball squad.
“As of right now our volleyball team is practicing as normal,” Marsh said. “They are not considered a contact sport within our conference, so they don’t have to go through the covid screening and testing process. They still do have to complete health questionnaires and have their temperature checked daily. They must also remain socially distanced and must wear masks, but they can still practice and compete.”
The Raider volleyball season has officially begun, but their first match against Kellogg Community College was canceled. Their next match was to take place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, at the Ford Fieldhouse against Ancilla College. However, due to inclement weather the game has been canceled. They are currently not allowing spectators to come to the facilities to watch the games, but they are streaming the games live on the GRCC Athletics webpage.
While the volleyball team has been able to get their season underway, the basketball squad has had some difficulties as well. Fighting against COVID-19 restrictions, the team is working hard to get their season started.
“Basketball is considered a contact sport,” explained Marsh. “In order for them to practice and scrimmage, they would need to test three times a week. As of right now, the GRCC team has not been testing,” due to unknown circumstances, “ but the team can practice and condition without contact.”
While the teams can practice and condition currently without contact, they are now preparing for their season which is scheduled to start Feb. 19. The women’s team will face off against the Muskegon Jayhawks at the Gordon Hunsberger Arena at 5:30 p.m. and the men’s team will face the Jayhawks also at 7:30 p.m. at home.
Along with the volleyball program, the baseball, softball and golf teams have been able to start training and practicing due to the socially distanced nature of their sports. This is yet another plus for the GRCC athletics program, as the athletes of these teams can use the fieldhouse facilities to better their skills and prepare for their upcoming seasons.
The fieldhouse, while being open to students, faculty and staff, is also open to the community.
“The fieldhouse also sells community memberships, but currently have not been able to invite their current members back due to school-wide policy,” explains Marsh, adding that she hopes to welcome them back as soon as it’s deemed safe.
Many students have been employed at the fieldhouse and have played an important role in the reopening process. These students have helped to maintain and follow the COVID-19 guidelines.
“Currently there are six to seven students staffed working in the fitness center, and about three to four students who work in the pool as lifeguards,” Marsh said. “The students have helped keep the facility open because the fieldhouse is in need of help and they need the staff to run the facility.”
With the reopening of the fieldhouse, students must remain safe and follow social distancing and COVID-19 guidelines to keep the facility open. Click here for more information about the fieldhouse hours and sports schedules. For those who want to schedule a timeslot in the fitness center or aquatic facility, they can go to the Fieldhouse’s webpage to complete this process.