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Gym would be dandy at William Jessup

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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A plan to build a larger cafeteria at William Jessup University could be a blessing for the basketball and volleyball teams. They are starving for a gymnasium that does not resemble a warehouse. Jessup’s “activities building” is literally a warehouse, or at least it was when the site was a Herman Miller furniture factory. The basketball court and bleachers occupy one-eighth of the building. That leaves plenty of room for a new and improved cafeteria under the same roof. And if there is going to be construction in one part of the massive building, why not build a gym at the same time? The common roof would allow both projects to proceed simultaneously. Athletic director Farnum Smith said other projects on the campus began under one roof and then the roof was removed. A larger cafeteria is the first priority. Class schedules have had to be carefully arranged, Smith said, to prevent too many students from going to lunch all at once and having to wait in a long line. A gym is just as important to Smith and Jessup’s coaches. With the cafeteria project on the front burner, Smith figures this is as good a time as any to pitch his gym proposal in a package deal. His proposal makes perfect sense, and he hopes the folks holding the purse strings will see it that way. “Part of the challenge is the institution in growing in every aspect,” Smith said. “With the way we want to grow and to expand the way we want to expand, we have to raise funds. That will take time.” Adding a sport, as Jessup did with softball in 2010, is much easier than building a facility. The Warriors have worked out a deal to play their home games this season at Lone Tree Park in Rocklin. Baseball is the next sport on the wish list, but Smith has had no luck thus far in finding an available field. Jessup could build a diamond on campus with more than 130 acres at its disposal along Sunset Boulevard, but money is an issue. There is none to spare for a sport that does not exist right now. “It’s a different beast when you’re talking about infrastructure,” Smith said. “We’re going to have to prioritize.” The Warriors compete in the California Pacific Conference, and only two schools in the conference – Menlo and Simpson - currently offer baseball. That makes baseball even less of a priority. For the time being, Smith wants to invest every available dollar into building a gym. The school has had men’s and women’s basketball since its days as San Jose Bible College in the 1990s. Smith graduated from the college in 1987, but he never really left. He was a part-time assistant coach until he got a full-time job at the school in 1995 when he became a resident director. The job required Smith to live in the dormitory with his wife, Myrna, and son Jesse, who was 18 months old at the time. He moved out in 1997 when he was named athletic director. The university moved in Rocklin in 2004. That was also when Jessup added its women’s soccer and cross country programs. Track and field joined the ranks in 2006, and men’s golf followed in 2007. “We’ve added a sport,” Smith said, “almost every year since we’ve been here.”