The announcement that Cole Fieldhouse would undergo major renovations and serve as a new indoor practice facility for this university’s football team was met with excitement by many avid Terps supporters.
After all, the team exceeded most expectations in its first year as a member of the Big Ten conference, and any move intended to increase the team’s success is sure to delight fans.
Yet the impending changes to the historic building may signal the end of a popular activity for many students in College Park: intramural indoor soccer.
After the men’s and women’s basketball teams left the facility in 2002, the hardwood was converted into two separate turf fields to give soccer players a place to play during the winter. The sport has been played in the old basketball arena for the past 12 years.
While the basic rules of indoor soccer on campus are similar to the outdoor version, there are many unique aspects that set it apart from other forms of soccer. Sophomore aerospace engineering major Adam Hurwitz, who was both a player and referee for games in Cole Fieldhouse, detailed some of these differences.
“It’s a completely different strategy because it’s not a big field where you can spread out and move the ball around,” Hurwitz said. He added that the smaller field size leads to a faster pace of play and more opportunities to score.
Jason Hess, who is in his third year as the Coordinator of Intramural Sports at this university, talked about the low amount of players — only five people, including the goalie, can be on the field at the same time. He also believes many participants prefer the game’s shorter 12-minute halves.
Thus, the realization that indoor soccer might be forced to end because of the planned renovations was disappointing to those involved, although not necessarily surprising.
“We knew it could be a possibility for a long time,” said Mary Kate Sullivan, the Intramural Sports Director. “It’s not like it totally caught us off guard.”
Campus Recreation Services took over the “stewardship” of Cole Fieldhouse 12 years ago, meaning that they did not own the building but were allowed to hold activities there, according to Hess. This was initially supposed to last for only about 10 years, so he acknowledged how lucky they were to have had use of the arena.
“It was kind of a privilege to be able to use that space for the amount of time that we did,” Hess said. “A lot of schools don’t have a facility that they can play indoor soccer in.”
As for possible indoor soccer locations to replace Cole, Sullivan said the university is “throwing around the idea” of playing in the turf bubble next to the driving range on the campus’ golf course. Hess also noted the possibility of playing in the Armory but said the season would likely have to be in the late fall due to the intramural basketball leagues that play there in the winter.
While most indoor soccer players would be happy to play anywhere, Hurwitz admitted that the atmosphere at another location compared to Cole Fieldhouse would not be the same.
“I think there’s an aspect to [indoor soccer] that will be different just because it’s not in Cole,” he said. “Wherever it is, it’s going to be different.”
Hess said he hopes that Campus Recreation Services will be able to share the space with the football team once renovations are complete, pointing out that the building’s official title is now “Cole Student Activities Building.”
“It would be great if there could continue to be some student activities other than just football practice,” he said. “That would be a great use of the space.”
In the meantime, Sullivan is focusing on the positive impact the renovations should have on the university overall.
“What’s good for campus is usually good for a lot of the different programs on campus,” she said. “While this may change what we do on a daily basis during the indoor soccer season, hopefully in the long run it will pay off for all of campus.”