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MIT Better World

By Jason Ruback

“Participation in physical activity and athletics serves as an opportunity for our student-athletes to develop essential lifelong skills in leadership, teamwork, and resilience,” says G. Anthony Grant, the director of athletics and DAPER department head, noting that DAPER’s facilities see nearly 900,000 individual recreational visits over the course of a typical year. “More importantly, participation improves students’ overall mental health and provides much-needed balance to the academic rigors of the Institute.”

With enthusiastic support from MIT’s alumni and friends, DAPER has expanded its footprint over the last decade to enhance the entire student-athlete experience, updating facilities and adding new programs that encourage leadership and promote wellness. “The significant evolution and growth within DAPER in recent years complements MIT’s commitment to fostering an environment of healthy living and well-being, while preparing our students to change the world,” Grant says.

Getting Student-Athletes Rehabbed and Ready

While injuries can become an unfortunate reality for any athlete, Tom Cronan, the Walter C. Price ’70 Family Director of Sports Medicine, works to keep student-athletes healthy. “We are steadfast in our commitment to providing quality sports medicine health care,” says Cronan, who has helped MIT Sports Medicine grow its staff to nine certified athletic trainers. “MIT is blessed with highly skilled, incredibly experienced, and genuinely kind individuals who keep our athletic programs running—literally,” says graduate student Liam Ackerman ’21, pictured, of MIT Track and Field.

New Balance in Gymnastics

Long a trailblazing student club, MIT Gymnastics promotes inclusivity while competing in a sport long defined by exclusive men-only or women-only events. “The men’s and women’s MIT Gymnastics Club teams always allowed and encouraged team members to train and compete in any event, regardless of gender identity,” says club president Jess Knapp ’22. Recently, the men’s and women’s teams merged to create a more open and welcoming community for all. “By combining into MIT Gymnastics, we are removing potential gender-based barriers to participation in the sport we love.”

A Faster, Safer Surface for MIT Track and Field

In 2016, MIT’s freshly updated outdoor track and field facilities got a new name—the Sherie and Don (1961) Morrison Track—and a new Olympic-caliber Beynon BSS 2000 rubber surface to reduce impact and improve player safety and performance. “The outdoor track and field facility is truly outstanding,” said J. J. Hunter, the new director of MIT Track and Field and Cross Country. “ The upgrades raised its status as a championship-level venue.” MIT’s outdoor programs have since earned six conference titles and four New England Division III Championships.

A New Home for MIT Crew

“One of my favorite moments all year was our first meeting in the newly renovated boathouse,” says Holly Metcalf, head coach of MIT Women’s Openweight Crew. “The look on each woman’s face was that of disbelief, exquisite joy, and pride that this was the team’s new rowing home.” The multiyear project, completed in spring 2021, modernized the 22,000-gross-square-foot facility, now known as the Richard J. Resch Boathouse, and will improve the practice and competition experience for all four MIT Crew varsity teams as well as students using the rowing machines (known as ergs) for recreation. “The huge windows, larger balcony, newer boats, bigger erg rooms, new ergs, huge weight room, student study space, historical photos … everything is super nice,” says PhD student Ben Koenig ’21 of MIT Men’s Heavyweight Crew. “It’s really remarkable.”