Construction Causes Commute: coaches admire what UCR offers

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By Hayden Kulick and Jair Ramirez.

The Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees approved funding for the RCC Football Field and Running Track Project.

The project is to replace the football field and the running track.

The field was shut down after a study conducted by an outside vendor right before the 2021 football playoffs..

The college’s football team has used Ramona High School’s stadium as its home field. The track and field team has been practicing at University of California, Riverside since the construction began March 4.

Track athletes have to go to RCC for classes, drive to UCR for cardio, and then drive back to RCC to lift weights in the Wheelock Gym. The shotput and discus throwers on the team still practice at RCC on the field near the parking structure.

“It’s a lot more tedious for them,” head women’s track and field coach Damien Smith said. “It took them about a week to fully adjust.”

The throws team has felt separated due to the move.

“Team bonding has been a little rough just because we’re separate from the team,” throws coach Nick Robinson said.

The constant back-and-forth travel between campuses isn’t the only issue for the athletes.

“Parking (at UCR) was the bigger issue,” Smith said. “Once we figured out the landscape and how to park, it became easier.” 

“It’s been challenging, but it’s something like in life. It’s something you have to do and you just get it done,” men’s track and field head coach Jim McCarron said. “They’ve done very well.”

The move hasn’t been entirely negative for the teams.

“UCR provides us with a lot of equipment that we have at our place and allows us to store other equipment here,” Smith said. “For the jumpers, they have more than one pit to jump in. I can put sprinters in one pit so they can do some drills and the long jumpers can still do their whole workout. They like the grass field here, it’s a little softer. It helps on their cooldowns.”

The athletes and coaches prefer the grass at UCR to the turf that they had at home.

“I kinda wish we had grass,” McCarron said. “It’s just better for training, it’s less impact. It’s softer on the legs, so I really actually like it. One of the benefits of training over there is that we get to use their javelin runway on Mondays which is really helpful. So that’s a big benefit of using their track.”

Smith said the team has had to change its practice times due to the temporary move.

“The biggest obstacle is not being at home and not being able to get right to our stuff,” Smith said. “The girls normally practice at one o’clock. We had to shift up to two o’clock and the guys come at three.”

The difference in the timing makes it harder for the coaches to focus on the athletes individually.

“Normally the girls would be done working out and the guys would come in,” Smith said. “Then we could fully focus on the guys but now they intermingle a little bit.”

After the season ends they will no longer be using UCR’s field.

The track is supposed to be completed by the last week of August. However, the recent storms may have delayed the process.

“They ripped the track apart the day after our last home meet,” Smith said. “There hasn’t been a thing done to it since.”

Currently, there is more prep to do before they can start laying down the new track.

“They are testing the asphalt to make sure everything is okay before they put the mondo track on top,” Robinson said. “Right now, they are going through testing to make sure they don’t have to replace any of the asphalt.”

The contractors and construction manager will update the official project schedule provided by them as progress is made.

The District’s project manager will oversee all operations in this project based on observations by the senior management of the construction company.

RCC will use the construction services of C.W. Driver LLC, led by Project Executive David Amundson. The construction of the new field and running track may cost up to $192,000.

This story is developing.

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