In Dec. 2021, New Trier will begin the new construction of the athletic wing at the
Winnetka campus. Facilities being rebuilt include the Gates Gym, the field house, and the weight room. The construction will be finished at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.
Andy Butler, head of the KW department, says the new building will have lots of new features that students can get excited about.
“The first floor is going to be the field house,” said Butler. “It’s going to have a [multipurpose] turf field in the middle and 6 lanes on the track. The first level is also the KW locker level.”
“In the [Gates Gym], they’re going to have a balcony on the east side [of the gym]. All of the bleachers will be able to come in and out, allowing for more flexibility, and there will be a jumbotron in the end zone.”
According to Butler, students will have a place to work out with their team or on their own.
“The weight room will have two floors. The first floor will have squat racks, benches, free weights, and a small turf area to do speed and agility drills. [The top floor will have] cardio equipment that will be looking out the windows.”
The building’s exterior also will change.
“The building is going to be turned perpendicular (compared to the way it is now) and it will match the new construction on the other side of the building,” said Butler. “There’s going to be an entrance on Trevian Way and one by the tennis courts.”
During the construction, multiple sports who use the current athletic facilities won’t be able to practice there. Augie Fontanetta, NT athletic director, said the school already has a plan for how to handle this situation.
“We’ll be able to accommodate a lot of the practices and varsity competitions in the main gym at the Northfield campus,” Fontanetta said. “We’re still going to be able to use G108, G109, and G110 [at the Winnetka campus].”
Sue Ellen Haak, head coach of the boys volleyball team, thinks that her team will have less of a home-court advantage in the Northfield gym.
“The Northfield gym doesn’t compare with the Gates Gym [in terms of] intimidating our opponents,” Haak said. “[Gates Gym is] a great court space for fans to be part of the experience. At Northfield, the bleachers are significantly pushed back.”
Although competitions may seem less exciting without a large gym, the demolition of the current facilities, particularly the gym, is intended to improve the experience of students, according to Fontanetta.
“We looked at all different options. We looked at keeping the gym and building on, renovating it, and knocking everything down. Because of the current structure in the facility, we’re just not able to repurpose the space to meet the needs of the student programs today unless we demolish the Gates Gym,” said Fontanetta.
Many students are upset that they won’t be able to experience the new building.
“It’s definitely a bummer that we won’t get to play in the new facility,” said Junior Noah
Shannon of the NT basketball team. “There are some good memories I have playing in Gates Gym. I got my first in-game dunk [there].”
Even though a majority of the current student body won’t be able to experience the new facilities, Haak thinks it special that her players get to compete in the current Gates Gym.
“We have had wonderful memories in the Gates Gym. And I don’t think it takes away from the overall experience that everything isn’t brand-new for them,” said Haak. “I actually think generations will look back at them and think it was [nice] that they got to play in the old Gates Gym.”