Preston a popular destination for students

Cassie Riley

The front doors of Western’s only on-campus fitness facility have been a popular destination this semester.

According to statistics from the ID Center, Preston Health and Activities Center received some 13,000 more visits last month compared to September of last year.

Brad Stinnett, assistant director of facilities for Preston, credited the increase to a ballooning enrollment and the fact that Western’s basketball, swimming and volleyball teams are practicing at Preston during the renovation of Diddle Arena. Volleyball games are also being held there this fall.

Students have taken notice.

Hodgenville junior Teri Lynn Rice, who works out at Preston at least five times a week, said many of the machines she uses for her workout are often unavailable.

Rice said a student is “lucky” to find a fitness machine open, so she tries her best to get to Preston’s weight room when it opens at 3:30 p.m.

“I try to get in as early as possible,” she said.

Somerset freshman Ryan Miller shares Rice’s sentiments. Since coming to Western, Miller said, he visits Preston three to four times a week.

“Usually, it’s pretty packed,” he said. “I spend about half an hour waiting.”

Miller, who mainly works on his upper body, said the weights are sometimes hard to get to.

“Free weights are always pretty much booked,” he said.

Stinnett said many of the strains on Preston are directly related to Diddle’s renovation.

Several sports teams have nowhere else to practice.

But swimming coach Bill Powell said the use of Preston by sports teams has had little effect on students. He said the swim team has used the pool at Preston for meets for several years and will use the facility for practice sessions this year only.

He said the Preston pool is consistently empty, with the exception of a few students, when his team is not using it.

When the first phase of the Diddle construction is completed in November, volleyball and basketball teams will be able to practice there, Stinnett said.

“We have three weeks left,” he said.

Stinnett agreed that, for now, Preston is experiencing a high number of visitors, but said the number of users in the facility’s weight room has been high for several years.

He hopes to double the amount of floor space in the weight room, from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet.

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and Campus Services, said Western may expand Preston’s weight room in the next few years to allow more students to use it.

Tice said a committee composed of members of Western’s physical education department, staff from Preston, faculty and students will be brought together to study possible solutions.

“We’re very early in the process of doing something like that,” he said. “We’re a couple of years away from actual change.”

Reach Cassie Riley at [email protected]