Normal protocol for the University of Memphis men’s soccer team is as follows: The team practices around 3:30 in the afternoon, and depending on the week and the team’s class schedules, on Tuesday mornings between 6 and 7 a.m.
The women’s team, which has enjoyed vast success under coach Brooks Monaghan, comes in after the men and work its morning practices around them, as well.
But there’s a problem: The reason there is no set daily schedule is because there are no lights. Despite fielding nationally competitive men’s and women’s teams annually, the soccer facility on campus has no lighting.
“It limits the time we’re able to practice,” senior defender JJ Greer said. “Basically, we are limited from about 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then you have to throw in there guys’ class times, which limits it even more.”
That the soccer programs on campus are forced to haggle over the use of the practice field so as to avoid the sun setting on them as they practice, makes the situation even more complicated. A new soccer facility, however, is part of the U of M’s master plan for the Park Avenue campus, which is just south of the University District. The goal is to have it ready by 2016.
Monaghan was not available for comment on this story; however, Bowen said in a statement that he recognized upon taking the job at Memphis that renovations and rejuvenation across the campus was in order, and a new soccer facility is key in those plans.
“We believed it was absolutely paramount that a new strategic plan be created to address our journey as a new comprehensive member of the (American Athletic Conference) in 2013,” Bowen said.
The soccer facility overhaul is part of a larger vision from Bowen and the University of Memphis athletic director that was devised and released to the public last October. Originally called a “March to the East,” in honor of the Tigers’ athletic department bracing for a move to the Big East Conference, Bowen outlined plans to overhaul the larger part of the Park Avenue campus, which includes a new soccer facility, a new track and field facility, and an indoor practice football facility for which money is already being collected.
Specific details, including aesthetics, are not readily available – at least, yet. But what is known is that the facilities are expected to be completed by 2016.
Rachel Marshall, a resident of the University District and former student who lives just more than a block away from the Park Avenue campus, said redoing the sports facilities there should boost morale and profile for the neighborhood and university.
“This is exactly what the place needs,” Marshall said. “I know they’ve been doing some work over there recently (to the golf and football facilities), but spreading and sharing the wealth should be a mutual benefit to all parties involved.”
And, for the soccer programs, it shows that there is, literally, a light at the end of the tunnel.
“All in all, it would make much more sense to have lights,” Greer said. “It would just be so much more convenient and we could be more flexible as far as when we wanted to train if we have those lights.”