The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Athletes strained by parking situation

Athletes, who have rigorous schedules, are complaining that parking regulations are stripping valuable time out of their days because construction projects have led parking services to change the rules.

Many student athletes have mandatory workouts and meetings at the Robins Center each morning, but parking services changed the rules so that they cannot park either in X-lot or J-lot across the street until after 2 p.m. That means they have to walk instead of drive.

"It just takes up a lot of time," said Darrius Garrett, a sophomore forward on the basketball team. "They won't even let us park across the street anymore."

The changes mean less sleep for the athletes, who are early risers to begin with.

"I live out in the apartments," said Mike Ireland, a defensive back on the football team. "We have meetings and workouts in the mornings, and that's every day. So I have to get up an hour early to get ready instead of the half hour it would take if I were driving."

Ireland said that the changes were a big adjustment, given the packed schedule of class and athletics that the players juggle.

"I'm a fifth-year senior, and I've never had to walk there before," he said.

The regulations are in place not only because of the First Market Stadium construction but also because of the renovations to the Millhiser Gym parking lot, scheduled to be completed by November 9. The parking spaces that athletes had used in the past--the special events parking lot and X lot--have been changed to staff parking lots. That means that staff have been largely unaffected by the changes in parking.

But some athletes are in danger of losing more than just sleep. Sara Reese, a forward on the field hockey team, said that some athletes have been physically impacted by the changes in regulations. Reese, like a lot of student athletes during the semester, suffered a stress fracture during the off-season.

"It's really not good for us to be walking to the gym every day," Reese said. "I have to be at the gym for physical therapy before my workout and because of the parking, I either have to find a ride or walk."

Some players have access to golf carts, but there is a charge associated with using them. Sports medicine staff acknowledges the problem but said that all statements about the matter would come from Jim Miller, the athletics director. Staff also confirmed that Miller was addressing the problem.

Construction workers are using the J-lot parking and are overflowing into X-lot. But many of the athletes said that the lots had been as empty as they had ever seen them.

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"There is really no way of telling how much parking we are going to need on any given day," said Natalia Green, director of parking services. "One day it might be 50, the next it might be 150."

Green said that the parking guidelines would be assessed once the renovations of the Millhiser parking lot concluded.

But until then, the athletes are walking. Garrett said there is no getting around the system.

"Some of the guys have tried to park there anyway and they just ended up getting tickets," he said.

Ireland said that the walk had not affected the healthy players on the field.

"Really, it would just be nice to have that extra half hour of sleep," Ireland said. "I don't think it's going to affect our performance. It's just something we are going to have to push through and maybe go to sleep earlier."

Contact reporter David Larter at david.larter@richmond.edu

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