A new look


Photo by David Heiling

The Blugold volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics teams have a new addition to their playing sphere. New bleachers now line the McPhee Physical Education Center as of Sept. 1.

Sport Facilities Operations Manager Andy Jepsen said a main reason new bleachers were installed was because the previous bleachers did not adhere to the American Disabilities Act standards. The previous seating arrangement was out of date and, ultimately, needed to be replaced.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the ADA, “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications and governmental activities.”

“We didn’t have seating for wheelchairs, we didn’t have proper seating areas so people could use handrails,” Jepsen said. “So, what we did is worked with Facilities and Project Management, and they helped us get a small project with the state to get

the funding.”

Jepsen also said another reason the new bleachers were installed was the inconvenience and hassle the old bleachers brought to the facility.

“We had issues moving those bleachers,” Jepsen said. “It took a lot of person power to move them. We were still looking at five to six people to move these bleachers because they were so heavy. That was what really started the process.”

Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon said the new bleachers accommodate not only the athletic department, but the kinesiology program and university recreation as well.

Kilgallon also said the bleachers are designed to have some flexibility as to where they can go and serve multiple purposes instead of being static in the gym.

“They’re much easier to move around,” Kilgallon said. “They’re made to re-position in order for our facilities, so that’s a big step. It takes away from our staff having to do a bunch of labor.”

The women’s volleyball team currently uses the upper-level gymnasium for their home games, as the Blugolds are fresh off a 3-0 victory over UW-River Falls last night.

Sophomore volleyball player Anna Hildebrandt said the new addition is a great fresh new piece to the equation when it

comes to games.

“I know it’s only bleachers,” Hildebrandt said. “I think it really adds more spirit and energy to the game. The atmosphere is new and clean and honestly really cool.”

She also said she likes the implementation of bringing the Blugold colors onto the bleachers instead of the normal bland wood colored ones and said it makes it really feel like they are playing home games.

In regards to recruitment, Kilgallon said anytime athletic facilities can be improved and renovated, it can only improve recruitment and post-season involvement with the

athletic programs.

“When it gets down to the time to submit bids for postseason play, it’s really nice to have nicer facilities,” he said. “We hosted the softball championships last year … and we would love to have Eau Claire be a place where other sports can have that too.”

Having renovations like the bleachers completed in McPhee are a great starting point, but Kilgallon said he’s not opposed to getting other additions or enhancements as needed.