Since the opening of the $36.4 million Peery Family Center gym and athletic center, it seems as if every sports team at Paly is eager to take advantage of all the facilities have to offer.

But what the gym does not have is enough space to accommodate all the students who play sports. If practices for sports teams start too far in advance of the season, there will no longer be enough facilities available at Paly for students to practice their sport.

Though the preseason for winter sports does not officially start until the end of October, students who are participating in winter sports have already started unofficially training for the season. Basketball, for example, has already started practicing in the small gym. This unofficial training leaves facilities unavailable for other students who require the facilities for their respective needs such as cheer, a team that needs to use the gym to practice stunting.

In addition to the skewed allocation of gym resources, the excessive, required practice time puts an additional strain on the students who are already juggling multiple classes and extracurriculars.

It is no secret that stress and mental health are large concerns within the Paly community.

The open gym space is valuable to everyone at Paly, even those who are not part of Paly Athletics. When sports teams are not occupying it, the Peery Center is used for clubs and spirit week dances — two activities that many more students participate in than sports. Additionally, Paly’s spirit squad needs the space as an athletic group that participates in both fall and winter seasons.

When sports that are not in season, such as basketball, are given priority over the spirit squad (an athletic team that has 40 people in it), it sends a message to the students on the squad that they do not matter as much as other sports and are not supported or taken seriously by other athletics teams.

In recent years, Paly’s cheer team has been able to practice in the wrestling room while the athletic center was under construction. However, since the start of this year, cheer has no longer been allowed to practice there, leaving them to either practice outside or in the hallways of the athletic center during their three-hour practices. With no real facility to practice in, the cheer team is not only less prepared when it comes time for them to perform, but also puts the cheerleaders at risk of injuring themselves without proper mats or sprung floors used when the cheerleaders practice in a gym.

In response to the complaints from members of the Spirit Squad, though, Athletics Director Therren Wilburn said he is  hopeful a solution will be reached about where cheer can practice.

We’re definitely, in this fall, season going to work with our programs to include cheer on our new facility calendar,” Wilburn said. “The facility calendar is just something we introduced this year to Paly athletics just so that way, coaches can all be included and set their time for when they prefer to have practice. And then it’s a process to move forward to make sure that facility time is given equally.” Wilburn also said the cheer practice could return to the old wrestling room again.

“There had been some administrative talks about them trying to use that facility as well,” Wilburn said. “We’re still waiting to hear back, but that still is potentially an option for them as well, but it’s just a process.”

For the time being however, it is only fair that teams that are in season such as cheer are given priority for practice space and time over teams that are not in season such as basketball. A simple solution is to have morning practices for teams that are not in season or have those teams practice after the teams that are in season have ended their practice for the day.

About The Author

Grace Kitayama is a junior at Palo Alto High School. Kitayama has been a member of The Campanile since her sophomore year of high school and is also a member of her school's dance team. In her free time, she enjoys hugging large shrubs.

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