Since 1902, the Borden Memorial Gymnasium has served as the primary venue for athletic programs––such as water-based sports, dance, and wrestling––despite its facilities being over 100 years old. Now, the Pan Athletic Center approaches its opening for students and faculty by winter term with newly renovated spaces and equipment, with the hope of fostering a greater sports community.
According to Elisa Joel, Director of Athletics, the Pan Center plans to open to the public by winter term. The space includes a variety of spaces such as a multi-purpose fitness room, swimming and diving pools, an athletic training room, dance studios, and more.
With the addition of the Pan Center, Andover’s campus will have a total of three sports facilities. Paul Murphy ’84, Head Coach for Andover Girls Swimming & Diving, described how the three athletic centers––Pan, Borden, and Snyder Center––would each be open and used for different athletics.
“The Borden Gym will still be usable and needed because the athletic offices are there, all of the volleyball will still be there, basketball will still be there, so there will definitely be use of Borden along with Pan. I think for the next bunch of years, you’re going to see when people go over to those facilities, [they’ll] either go to Snyder, to Pan, and then definitely to Borden [since] quite a lot of activities will still be in that space,” said Murphy.
Various coaches and student athletes expressed their excitement for the new facilities. David Fox, Coach for the Andover Boys Swimming & Diving and Water Polo, explained his thoughts about the new pool and how it could benefit students with a heavier commitment load.
“The size of the pool will allow us to just keep more people playing water polo or swimming for a long time. We [went] from six lanes to 13 lanes, so [we’ll] be able to go from having three practice times that force kids to choose between [other] commitments [to] two practices. It will allow us to keep more people in the program [and] allow kids to, in many ways, make fewer choices and still be just as committed to everything,” said Fox.
Zach Godsey ’25, a member of the Boys Varsity Water Polo team, shared the same sentiment. Godsey commented on how the new pool will benefit practice time and quality.
“I’m really excited for the Pan Center, especially for the swimming and water polo program. It should help a lot, especially for water polo because it’s hard to practice in a shallow pool that’s also really narrow. It’s more practice space, it’s a bigger pool. Last year, we had to practice in two different groups, but now, because it’s a bigger pool, we can practice all together,” said Godsey.
Pan will also benefit sports such as dance, with bigger studios and proper flooring. Dance instructor Judith Wombwell hopes that the new dance studios will send a message that dance has a place at Andover and should be considered a sport just as much as others.
“My hope is that it will create a very cohesive space for all dancers and give us a lot of control over our own performance experience. I think everyone needs to think equitably about the use of our spaces, particularly in the athletic complex. If you can go play basketball, you should be able to go in and dance. I’m just so grateful for the spaces in the Pan Center and the fact that there will be a lobby and dressing rooms of our own. We’ll be able to create a greater sense of community among the dancers,” said Wombwell.
After almost two years of construction, the Pan Center is almost ready for students and faculty. Murphy reiterated the usefulness of a new facility, and appreciates the future that Pan will set for the Andover community.
“I think right now, we’re used to [Borden], but it’s old, and it’s really stopped being as effective as a venue for watching swimming and wrestling and dance. [Pan is] just a really beautiful building that is welcoming for watching dance performances, being part of wrestling, and certainly for all of the water sports that we have. It’s so centrally located that I think that it’s going to, in some ways, pull the campus together. I’m convinced that [Pan] is going to become a hub for us,” said Murphy.