Future of indoor archery facility on campus remains uncertain

Cassandra Jaramillo

The UT archery club had always heard rumors Anna Hiss Gym would close down, but when the news finally arrived last spring, team members didn’t expect the obstacles its closure would bring.

For decades, the archery club practiced for its indoor competitions in the basement floor of Anna Hiss. Without an indoor facility, team members said they will not be able to host tournaments to raise money and may lose members who can’t afford to travel off campus to practice three times a week.

“[RecSports] told us [the Provost’s Office was] officially taking away Anna Hiss, and the intramural fields were going to go into renovations, which was going to threaten our outdoor practices in the spring,” said Alex Geringer, who was UT archery club president last year. “We were really, really concerned after that.”

Anna Hiss closed for the Provost’s Office to decide how to use the space. The Provost’s Office now manages room reservations for the building instead of RecSports. The building’s future is undetermined.

“No decisions have been made yet about how the Anna Hiss space will be repurposed,” Joey Williams, spokesperson for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, said in an email. “It is currently being evaluated to meet the needs of the campus, and the campus will be updated once that process is complete.”

Randall Ford, associate director in programs for UT RecSports, said the organization had to reshuffle several sport programs that used Whitaker Fields and Anna Hiss Gym. Clubs that have been displaced include archery, men’s and women’s rugby, soccer, ultimate Frisbee club and quidditch.

Ford said many programs that called Anna Hiss home have moved to Bellmont Hall, but there is no space for an indoor range for archery. Outdoor sports clubs that once practiced on Whitaker, including archery, will return to the fields in fall 2016.
However, archery will not be returning to an indoor facility on campus, Ford said.

When Geringer graduated, mechanical engineering junior Tiffany Kuan took over as club president. Kuan said a major concern she’s had is trying to manage finances.

“We are not taking new members right now, so we are not getting new membership dues,” Kuan said. “Traditionally we have been a low-maintenance, low-cost club. We make money running tournaments, so when we lose space for us to host tournaments, we lose income.”

Volunteer head coach James Corral said the club spent nearly $10,000 a year in equipment, facility upkeep and traveling expenses. Most of its expenses were offset by revenue from archery tournaments. The club used to host three tournaments — two indoor and one outdoor — each semester and brought in an average of $5,000 per tournament.

Now the club pays $600 a month in rent for Archery Country, an archery shop with an indoor range about 15 minutes away. Ford said UT RecSports is providing financial assistance for rental expenses. Meanwhile, Kuan is trying to schedule
carpools for practices.

“I guess change is good, but this is definitely not a change for the better for the club,” Kuan said.

Ford said UT RecSports does not have plans for an archery indoor facility on campus, but the organization would look into it if interest within the club grew.

Corral signed up for archery as a UT freshman in 1984 and never left. He said he has postponed his retirement until further notice.

“Things look a little bleak for us, but there’s a part of me that thinks things will be OK,” Corral said. “My retirement plan is to retire when I see the club is stable.”