Uncommons to Become Flexible Athletic Space

Today Uncommons is a place to load up on calories. In the future, it will be a place to burn them. Uncommons will be transformed into a multipurpose facility for athletic activities, said Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School. According to Sykes, Uncommons will also be used for standardized testing and large gatherings, such as dances and events organized by the Office of Academy Resources. The changes will take place after Commons reopens in the spring. Uncommons will also provide a home for LIFE (Life/Instruction/Fitness Education) activities, a new program that includes athletic offerings such as FIT, fencing, instructional sports, yoga and pilates. According to Michael Kuta, Director of the Athletic Department, LIFE activities have the fastest-growing student enrollment for sports. “The new facility can help accommodate more students in non-traditional sports, whereas the old facilities were built to support only the traditional sports choices,” said Kuta. Giving the facility the most flexibility was administrators’ main priority, according to Sykes. “Instead of having yoga in Pearson, instructional sports in the cage and other LIFE activities spread out across campus, we will be able to house all our LIFE activities under one roof in the popular three to four [o’clock] time slot,” said Kuta. “Everyone is busy and time management is a major factor in what activities people choose,” he continued. “If we can offer LIFE activities in a favorable slot, I think it will enhance flexibility for students, a major goal in the Strategic Plan.” Scheduling will go through the Athletic Office, and athletics will receive priority in the new facility, Sykes wrote in an email to The Phillipian. Uncommons, as an athletic facility, will take over Borden Gym’s role in standardized testing, to alleviate pressure on the gym and provide more room for students, Kuta said. “Folks have to set up folding chairs for testing, which eats into athletic time and literally, eats into the floor,” said Kuta. Uncommons may also serve as an indoor field during days of bad weather. With more available facilities, Andover can offer earlier dates for interscholastic sports to begin and can extend tryout periods, according to Kuta. Kuta said, “We’re not excluding anything we’re trying to be inclusive. We’re being mindful of our entire community.” Specific alterations to Uncommons are still under discussion. More proposals will have to be written and approved before the details are drawn out, according to Sykes. He said, “My vision is to compartmentalize the beautiful open space [of Uncommons] and be able rearrange its makeup at a moments notice. If you cut the open space into sections with folding walls or vertical curtains that can be motorized, we will have a lot more flexibility to meet the needs of kids. I believe open spaces are the future of athletic facilities.” The new multi-purpose facility is unlikely to retain the name Uncommons, but no other ideas have surfaced yet, wrote Sykes.