Varsity girls’ volleyball inaugurates athletic center in opening ceremony

The+varsity+girls+volleyball+team+was+the+first+Harker+sports+team+to+hold+a+sporting+event+in+the+new+gym.+The+teams+scrimmage+was+part+of+the+centers+opening+ceremony+on+Aug.+18.

Nicole Chen

The varsity girls volleyball team was the first Harker sports team to hold a sporting event in the new gym. The team’s scrimmage was part of the center’s opening ceremony on Aug. 18.

by Nicole Chen, Rose Guan, and Nerine Uyanik

The upper school’s new athletic center held its opening ceremony to showcase its facilities and features to the Harker community on Aug. 18.

The opening ceremony featured numerous speakers, a demonstration of the gym with the varsity girls volleyball team and a self-guided tour with student athletes stationed in each room.

“The work we’ve been doing now finally matches the kind of gym we’re in,” varsity girls volleyball team member Tiffany Shou (12), who attended the opening, said. “Our team of 14, we just feel so small in there compared to the big gym, and I think it’s going to be a while until we get used to it, but I think we’re really going to live up to what it is.”

After opening remarks from Chair of the Board of Trustees Diane Nichols and Head of School Brian Yager, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with the Board of Trustees, student-athletes and a group of Harker’s staff outside the building.

Attendees entered the gym, where Nichols introduced key individuals specific to the project. Athletic director Dan Molin expressed his optimism for the future of not only the athletics department but the entire Harker community.

“The time for imagining how much better we can be is finally here,” Molin said at the ceremony. “What I’m most excited about cannot really be quantified. What I’m talking about is school spirit. Big games will be played here with packed bleachers and a cohesive student body coming together as one. That’s what I’m excited about because those will be great memories that Harker athletes and all Harker students will carry with them forever.”

Upper school girls volleyball coach Theresa “Smitty” Smith dedicated the court to former Head of School Howard Nichols, revealing his name printed on the floor of the gym.

“[The intent of the ceremony] is to celebrate the completion of the building, to celebrate Harker’s athletes of the past, present and future, to allow the entire Harker community to come and see a building that we’ve been talking about for many years,” facility director Mike Bassoni said in an interview. “It took 14 months to construct, but we’ve been talking about building a new gym for well over a decade.”

Construction on the gym began last June and continued until this July. The gym also became accessible for fall sports’ summer practices.

“Having a gymnasium on campus, it’ll be very tangible. You’ll notice more school spirit: people will rally around gymnasium events,” Molin said. “It’s obviously very convenient now that it’s going to be on our campus, and it’s just going to bring about a whole new level of excitement.”

Due to the completion of the gym, cars dropping off students will now travel behind Nichols Hall, along the wall separating campus from the Junipero Serra Freeway. Students still will not be able to park on campus during first semester.

“We’ll most likely never have unlimited high school student parking,” Bassoni said. “Second semester of this school year, the seniors will be able to come back and park, and juniors who are fortunate enough to get a spot will park.”

Beyond better facilities for athletes and performers, the construction of the new gym and performing arts center will also allow the school to move towards using property it owns, minimizing its reliance on leased property.

“[The construction] allows us to ultimately move away from the leased [Blackford] campus—the lease is going to end—and onto property that the school owns, and that will ensure Harker’s presence and academic standard of excellence in the valley for another 125 years,” executive director of advancement Joe Rosenthal said. “That’s why it’s so significant, and I think that’s why we’re really trying to get across that it’s much more than a gym and a theater.”

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on September 6, 2017.