Constructing a way to work out at PepsiCo


Narita Lambert

Covered walls, empty field house and new flooring materials in PepsiCo Recreation Center on Monday April 25

Brett Kuras

Beginning the week after Easter break, Pepsico Recreation Center went under construction. The building is closed to students, including varsity athletes.

According to several lacrosse players, students at Augustana have been navigating new problems since the construction in PepsiCo began. Students have been unable to work out and sports teams have not had access to their locker rooms.

Don Umland, director of campus recreation, said this is the first time since the building’s opening that it’s being redone. The floors and track will be replaced and sandpits and a pole vault area will be added. However, redoing the lower floor and locker rooms has created issues for several different groups on campus.

Junior Claire Kim, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, said she was disappointed with the news of their locker room being shut down. Since then, the lacrosse team hasn’t been able to do traditional aspects of their team’s culture, such as senior night celebrations. 

“We were only notified a few days before the construction started that we weren’t going to have access to our locker rooms,” Kim said. “Having our locker room for senior night is a part of our [team] culture because we decorate it, make scrapbooks and pictures for the seniors, and we celebrate them before they leave us. It really threw a wrench in our plans.”

Sydney Rector, a senior on the team, said she is disappointed with the outcome of their senior year season. This year, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams had to celebrate in Carriage House, the dance studio near PepsiCo. 

“It wasn’t the same though because we had to share it with the men’s lacrosse team. When we first asked for a new place to go, the PepsiCo staff offered the women’s bathroom, which is significantly smaller than the locker room and doesn’t have the same atmosphere as the locker room,” Rector said. 

Senior Maggie Cecilio said the lacrosse teams feel pushed aside by the school.  

“We’ve been overlooked and brushed aside as a program, and this felt like the final straw,” Cecelio said. “We got our parents involved because we felt the administration wasn’t listening to our complaints.”

While the problems that have arisen have caused a lot of frustration, Umland said that he is trying his best to help, and many aspects of this project were out of his control. 

“We couldn’t start the construction during the summer because the material used wouldn’t dry properly in the summer heat,” Umland said. “The company doing the work only gave me a few days’ notice before they were going to start, and when they arrived, they said they needed the space immediately. Hopefully when the project is done, we can say it was worth it.”

While accessing PepsiCo for athletes has been a problem, the downstairs area was used as a place to work out for all students. This was previously the most convenient place for senior students to exercise specifically, as seniors’ IDs don’t allow them into the Westerlin workout center.

Umland said that he realized it was a problem, and he is working to address it. 

“At this point, I’ve talked to the school about the senior students having card access to Westerlin, and I believe it is working.” Umland said.

Umland said he has worked to have open communication with those impacted by the PepsiCo renovations.  

“It was disheartening that we had to remove the teams with such short notice,” Umland said. “I’m glad I’ve been able to meet with students, staff and parents to have a conversation to explain what’s been happening and many have understood.”

If a student has a complaint, Umland said he is willing to listen and help. 

“This starts and stops with me, I will help in any way I can,” Umland said. 

The construction is estimated to be done by early June.