With the fall 2021 semester at UMass Boston now in full swing, students are beginning to return to many of the on-campus activities that they enjoyed before the campus was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit with health and safety guidelines and restrictions. One of those buildings is the Clark Athletic Center, home to UMass Boston's basketball, hockey, and volleyball teams.
The Clark Building's main feature is a massive, sprawling 26,000 square foot gymnasium that can seat about 3,000 people with retractable bleachers on either side of the gym. Inside, there is a wireless sound system, a four-sided overhead scoreboard, the main basketball court, the main volleyball court, three side basketball courts, two side volleyball courts, and four badminton courts. The Clark Building also features a state-of-the-art hockey rink used by both the UMass Boston Men's and Women's teams, as well as the team from BC High. The lobby of the Clark Building connects the indoor and outdoor facilities to one another. It features concession stands, in addition to trophy cases highlighting all of the amazing accomplishments of UMass Boston's student-athletes over the course of several decades. As UMass Boston is a public research university, the building has a 24-screen computer lab for the athletes to get their work done. It also has sports medicine facilities, an equipment room, and a gym available only to varsity athletes with both cardio and weight machines.
Due to the ongoing construction on campus, getting to the actual building can be difficult, as I found out on a wet Tuesday that I went to visit. However, the staff at Clark were more than kind and accommodating to answer my questions. Catelyn Simpson is the main supervisor for intramural open recreation. Unlike the gym, which has to be booked in advance, the gymnasium is open to all students from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, with the exception of state holidays. However, equipment must still be checked out by the staff. In the gym, the students can play basketball, badminton, volleyball, and ping pong. Catelyn said that the reopening of the facility has gone well and that they have not had many problems with students not wearing masks or following other COVID-19 protocols.
I spoke to a number of students who were in the gym to either play pickup basketball games or just practice their skills by themselves. A trio of them, Ike, a freshman; Manny, a sophomore; and Bryson, a freshman, all told me that they liked the building, that it was a cool spot to play informal pickup games, and that they were fine with the building's COVID protocols.
Tigran, a senior, said that it was good for the building to reopen, that he would frequently visit with his friends, either playing basketball with them or by himself, and that he felt Clark had handled its reopening well. Joshua DaCosta, a freshman, told me that he also liked the building, and called it a nice facility.
Mohamed, a junior who transferred to UMass Boston from Bunker Hill Community College, said that he liked the building, although he did not like its strong blue Beacon colors. Mohamed played both intramural and pickup basketball at the facility. He was also fine with the Clark building's COVID protocols, although he did wish that the building's weight room was closer, as was the case at Bunker Hill, and that there were showers to wash off after a game.
Simon, a sophomore, said that he played basketball and volleyball at the building, liked how big and spacious it was, thought that the masking requirement was enforced strictly, but that it was effective and was otherwise fine with it.
Hopefully, as the semester goes on, Catelyn told me, more students will utilize the Clark Center and its many facilities.