It was a historic moment for the entire college; for years, current students and alumni have been waiting for a promised new athletic facility. Last Saturday, that promise was finally delivered.
Frank P. Carbone Court, located in the new center, will be home to the college's varsity men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. It is the first time the teams will ever have a regulation-size court on their campus.
Anthony Macapugay, SJC’s sports information director, said that the school got approval to use the Hill Center last Monday, December 1, and he can already see how much the new facility means to the school’s athletes.
“When the men’s basketball team had their first practice on Tuesday, and when the women had theirs on Wednesday,” he said, “you could definitely tell the excitement of ‘now we’re home.’”
The home court that the teams have practiced on for years falls far below regulation standards, both in court size and in ceiling height.
For home games, teams had to play at Brooklyn Technical High School, and occasionally other schools if there were scheduling conflicts. Macapugay said that Saturday’s game was significant as the women’s team finally experienced what it felt like to play at home.
“We’ve never had a home facility for anything, so Saturday, for all intents and purposes, was our first actual home event on campus in quite some time,” Macapugay said.
While Saturday’s outcome for the Lady Bears was disappointing, there were plenty of exciting moments throughout the game.
Senior Samantha Retas scored the first-ever basket at the Hill Center with a lay-up 54 seconds into the game. She led the Lady Bears with 18 points and 16 rebounds, with a lot of help from teammate Destiny Marino, who led the team with seven rebounds.
In attendance were plenty of family, friends and supporters. Joining them were current SJC President Dr. Jack P. Calareso and former SJC President Sr. Elizabeth Hill, whom the building was named after.
Macapugay said he expects that the new court will increase attendance at home games and “help connect the entire campus.”
Besides the court for the basketball and volleyball teams, the facility features a new, much larger fitness center loaded with cardio and strength machines and free weights, an outdoor terrace where students can hang out in warmer weather, and inflatable batting cages for the school’s baseball and softball teams.
The Hill Center is just one part of a larger movement in growing SJC’s athletics department. The school was just added as an NCAA Division III school in 2011 and will be joining the NCAA's Skyline Conference next year.
“It’s all going to help set us apart and assist in recruiting and retention of athletes,” Macapugay said.
For now, SJC will continue to celebrate the opening of its new athletic facility.
Though the inaugural game has come and gone, the college will host the facility’s true grand opening on December 18, when the men’s and women’s teams host a doubleheader against their rivals, St. Joseph’s Long Island campus.
The annual East vs. West doubleheader is sure to be a crowd pleaser, with the women tipping off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.