Women’s Basketball Team To Play Home Games at Four Different Locations This Season
When the Yeshiva University’s women’s basketball team takes the court for their first home game of the 2017-2018 season, the white jerseys and the name on the scoreboard will be the sole indicators that they are the home team. The locker room will have no nameplates and there will be no Macs logo underfoot at the tip-off.
After nine years of playing home games at Baruch College, the women’s basketball team will play their 10 home games at four different locations. On September 15, Baruch notified the YU athletics department that the ARC Arena at Baruch College was being rented out by The King’s College. With just eight weeks to go before the season began, Carly Moss, Assistant Athletic Director, tried to find a new and consistent gym that would fit the schedule.
“If I would have heard earlier, I could have made arrangements at another gym,” said Moss. “In NYC, specifically midtown Manhattan, there are a plethora of colleges and universities that need to use NCAA regulation courts for practice and game times, yet only a sparse number of gyms.”
Although the women currently practice in the Max Stern Athletic Center (MSAC) on the Wilf campus in Washington Heights, they are unable to use the space for games for a variety of reasons, mainly because of scheduling conflicts surrounding the gym. After reaching out to her contacts in other schools, Moss secured the Nat Holman Gymnasium at CCNY for five of the 10 home games. Two more games will be played at Maritime College in Throggs Neck, two more at the College of New Rochelle, and one game will be at Fordham University, a Division One school. YU opted to add Fordham to the list of home gyms to give the athletes the experience of playing in a Division One arena. Yeshiva University is a Division Three school, so the facilities that the athletes come in contact with are typically lower quality than those of Division One schools.
The lack of a consistent home game space brings to light a different issue: the team will not play games in the same place that it practices. The team practiced at Baruch until two seasons ago.
“It's very frustrating not to practice and play on the same court because we never know one court. We keep jumping around,” remarked a member of the basketball team who wished to remain anonymous. “All courts are different sizes and lengths. It's very hard to learn to play with your team when the location you practice in is not the same as it is for a game.”
Women’s Basketball Coach Michael Alon echoed this sentiment. “Most teams play better at home, where they practice,” he explained.
Playing home games on other courts is not a situation specific to Yeshiva University. At least seven NCAA varsity teams don’t have a facility on their specific campuses, including teams at schools such as The King’s College, NYU, and Cooper Union.
Joe Bednarsh, Athletic Director, understands the team’s discomfort with playing in multiple arenas, but he also acknowledges that finding a gym at all while other NCAA colleges are also looking for home gyms in NYC is an accomplishment.
“It’s not optimal that [the team] is playing home games in multiple locations, but this year with all the challenges that we have had, having found City College for the majority of the games is amazing,” Bednarsh said.
In addition to having an inconsistency with the location for practices and games, not having a consistent home gym also makes it more difficult for spectators to come and watch the games. Ilana Kisilinsky, a senior at Stern College for Women, said, “I would love to continue to come to home games, but now that they are going to be in so many places, it’s going to get hard to make it out.”
Baruch, which is located at 55 Lexington Avenue, only 10 blocks away from the Beren Campus, was convenient for spectators. In an attempt to give the unfamiliar courts at the new locations a home-crowd feel, the athletics department is considering distributing free giveaways and holding halftime competitions during games.
“My boss, [Senior Vice President] Josh Joseph has been very receptive to our ideas, he is always asking ‘what can I do for you to make this program better’” said Bednarsh about the actions stated above.
Bednarsh, a member of the athletics department since 1991 and athletics director since 2006, has been working with YU leaders such as Joseph on additional changes this for season in regards to the women’s practice experience at Wilf.
Though they can’t clear out the rush hour traffic on the Harlem River Drive, the athletics department has cleaned out and given the women access to the visitor’s locker room at MSAC with locks provided by the school. During practice hours, the restroom next to the locker room is switched to a women’s restroom. Additionally, the women’s basketball team was allowed to use MSAC for a scrimmage, a practice game against another team that has no effect on either team’s regular season record, against Mercy College on October 26th.
The scrimmage was allowed to happen at MSAC because it is “essentially a practice; low key and informal,” said Bednarsh. “As long as we kept to the same rules in terms of the facility being closed to anybody not involved in the practice, we were able to play it uptown.”
According to Bednarsh, before Moss booked the other arenas for this season’s games, the possibility of using MSAC was being “discussed internally.” However, this never became a reality.
Michal Alge, senior captain of the women’s basketball team and athletics liaison on the Beren Student Life Committee, said that female athletes being barred from using MSAC for games sends an unclear message to the athletes. “Are we allowed to have the same access to MSAC as the men or not? Why should [women’s] NCAA teams be any different when it comes to playing games?”
The YU men’s basketball team currently uses MSAC for its home games. According to Bednarsh, the high demand for MSAC makes it difficult to fit women’s games into its busy schedule.
“There is a delicate balancing act between the NCAA Teams, Recreation, Intramurals, HS, student event usage and University event usage,” said Bednarsh. “We have to accommodate every one of the various constituencies and that does sometimes mean that other events take precedence over the NCAA teams...I also have to consider that the number of non-student-athletes is larger than the number of student-athletes and I need to be somewhat proportional in my considerations.”
For the Maccabees, many believe Baruch would have been the best option for a home gym, to practice and play at, potentially better than MSAC.
“The team would then be able to practice and play on the same court, would have fewer travel delays, would have less frustration with truncated practices due to travel delays, among a host of other reasons,” Bednarsh explained.
Unlike the scheduling issue that Bednarsh pointed out, Alon received a different reason for why the women’s basketball team cannot play games at MSAC.
“There were a few but the main reason as I understood it was for religious spectator purposes,” he said, referring to how women playing games on the Wilf campus could lead to men attending games where women are immodestly dressed.
Despite the inconsistency surrounding the location of games, Alge is confident in her team’s ability to compete, regardless of the situation.
“No matter where we play, we will obviously be giving it our all,” she said. “We are looking forward to a really successful season with our talented and committed team.”