College, community come together at outdoor facility
GREENVILLE â" Winter might be in the air, but on Thiel Collegeâs football field, there is a heated oasis â" minus the palm trees and coconuts.
For the eighth year, Thiel raised the Rissell-Schreyer Dome over its football field so that its outdoor sports teams have a place to practice and the community has an area to exercise and host events through the winter and into mid-March.
The dome-raising is a part of Thielâs Winter Fest, which also features admissions and scholarship day events for prospective students.
Although the dome is just another sign of winter for most, Thiel students like junior softball player Isabella Bungo know the kind of work that goes into creating the tropical bubble.
The athletes help to construct the dome with nuts and bolts, Bungo said. They pull the rope through loops and pull the plastic material of the Dome taut. After working into the night to erect the dome, Bungo said itâs rewarding to see the finished project, and to be protected from the snowy winter during practice.
Bungo attended the dome opening for the first time when she visited the college as a high school student. She was surprised that a school as small as Thiel would have an amenity such as the dome.
âIt was neat to see we would have the dome in the winter. Iâve never seen that in a small school,â Bungo said.
Than Oo, director of student activities and involvement, said that the dome opener is also a way fo r prospective students to see what Thiel has to offer, not just in terms of academics, but also the social and fun side of the college. There are always many clubs, sororities and fraternities at the opener, which helps students get involved, Oo said.
From that first dome opener experience, Bungo said she saw students talking and hanging out. It was also the first time she met all of her teammates.
âIt was nice to see that a lot of students came together for the dome opener,â Bungo said ââ¦ It was nice to see a mix of everyone mingling an getting along.â
For the dome opening on Friday, the kickoff included laser tag, face painting, airbrush T-shirts, a rock climbing wall, inflatables, cornhole games and more. There was also a buffet that included food from around the United States.
After Friday, the dome will primarily be a space for exercise. The hours when community members can use the dome are not yet determined, but they will be posted on the o utside of the dome as well as on Thielâs website. The dome is closed to the community during team practices.
During times when community members and students use the dome simultaneously, it facilitates interactions that lead to something greater.
Students make connections with the people who live in Greenville and walk in the dome, which sometimes leads to internships and jobs, Oo said. In return, community members get the chance to see the college through the eyes of students.
âItâs our biggest event for the fall semester, and I know a lot of the community members are excited for it because they can come into the dome and are free to walk around the dome while still getting their steps in,â Oo said.
âItâs a big part of Thiel college,â Bungo said. âI think itâs one of the bigger attractions that we have.â
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