A Look at a Typical Winter Weekend for UNH Athletics
By Scott Stapin, Athletic Media Relations
February 11, 2009
The New Hampshire Winter Track League high school meet,1,500 athletes and fans strong, stream up and down the west hallway of the Field House as they compete on the Paul Sweet Oval track.
A thousand athletes, parents and fans roam the east hallway of the Field House while enjoying the Oyster River Swim Invitational, hosted by Oyster River High School. And the UNH women’s basketball team is battling America East rival Vermont in Lundholm Gym before another 500 fans, right smack in the middle of the other two events.
The concession stand is churning out soda, hot dogs and pizza at a steady rate to the hungry masses in the main lobby. Imagine a three-ring circus, or more appropriately a “mini-Olympics” stuffed into the Field House and you can begin to understand just how many people from all over New Hampshire utilize the UNH athletic facilities.
It’s a Sunday afternoon, a typical day for UNH athletic facilities.
Not many can imagine just how many people make use of the university’s athletic services. It’s not only the UNH athletes competing in front of cheering crowds, but it’s also high school teams and their fans, community groups, UNH staff, and residents of Durham and surrounding cities and towns. Nearly every weekend of the year, people stream onto campus to enjoy what UNH and the athletic department has to offer.
This February afternoon is just a tip of the iceberg on a weekend that began on the Thursday with a women’s ice hockey game where the No. 7 Wildcats topped No. 5 Boston College; 566 fans filled the Whittemore Center.
On Friday, the men’s ice hockey team thrilled a crowd of 6,100 as UNH defeated No. 6 Vermont at the Whitt, 3-2. On Saturday, the women’s gymnastics team remained undefeated as it posted an amazing come-from-behind victory over powerful North Carolina in front of 1,000 fans, and the men’s basketball team brought in the best crowd of the 2009 season surpassing 2,000 fans in Lundholm Gym as they played Vermont, the top team in America East.
During this one weekend, Athletics welcomed more than 12,000 people to eight major events. To accommodate so many activities, facility schedules have to be checked and double-checked months in advance. Staff members work every event from the ticket office to event management to marketing to media relations. Many people work long arduous hours to accomplish all that needs to be done for “the show” to go on.
For example, Lundholm Gym was set up for a men’s basketball game at noon, then work crews set up gymnastics equipment to allow gymnasts to warm up for their meet by 5 p.m. The crew returned late that night to dismantle the equipment, completing their task at midnight, making sure the gym was ready for Sunday morning when UNH and Vermont women’s basketball began warm-ups for their 1 p.m. contest.
This happens over and over again throughout the season, weekend after weekend.
UNH facilities aren’t just for a few student-athletes. There are concerts, home shows, high school championships and many other community endeavors. The entire state makes use of the Whittemore Center, Lundholm Gymnasium, Swasey Pool and Sweet Oval, not to mention the many outdoor venues such as Cowell Stadium, Bremner Field, Memorial Field and the Reggie Atkins Outdoor track.
In many cases, these facilities are the best New Hampshire has to offer its youth. This exposure is vital to UNH and the community. Thousands of prospective students and their parents gain their only perspective of UNH by attending these events.
It is vital that the facilities and service leave the many visitors with a positive impression of UNH and all that it has to offer.