The Rec Center Beam Signing: Becoming part of UConn’s history

 The UConn Rec Center hosts the opportunity to autograph one of the I-Beams that will be incorporated into the new Rec Center that will be completed in 2019. Many students wanted to leave their mark on history, and now have the opportunity to say they were a part of the construction. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Rec Center hosts the opportunity to autograph one of the I-Beams that will be incorporated into the new Rec Center that will be completed in 2019. Many students wanted to leave their mark on history, and now have the opportunity to say they were a part of the construction. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

All year, it has seemed like construction on the new recreation center has been going at lightning speed. In celebration of finishing the frame of the building, students were asked to come and sign the final beam Monday, before it would be attached Tuesday.

 Student signatures on the last I-Beam that will be incorporated into the new Rec Center that will be completed in 2019. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Student signatures on the last I-Beam that will be incorporated into the new Rec Center that will be completed in 2019. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

The beam was painted white and quickly covered in hundreds of little sharpie signatures. The event was popular, with a line of students filing to make their mark on the new gym.

Cheerleaders, Jonathan the Husky and a dozen members of UConn Recreation milled around, and prizes like UConn Rec Center t-shirts were given out. Hot chocolate and cider were also served.

Associate Director of UConn Recreation Michael Dalfonso explained the significance of the signing of the beam.

“The beam signing is giving all the students and community at UConn the chance to be a part of the history of the construction project,” Dalfonso said. “This is the final beam that will be raised in this phase of construction.”

Unfortunately, Dalfonso stated, “the beam will (only) be visible until the final envelope of the building goes in place.” While the signatures will no longer be seen once the building is complete, they will always be there, just out of sight.

Fourth-semester allied health major Maddie Konz explained why she came to sign the beam.

“I go to the gym a lot, and I really don’t like it. So I think it’s cool to be part of something I’ll use often and leave my mark,” Konz said.

The new rec center is expected to be a massive improvement over the old one.

When asked what would be new, Dalfonso said, “So many things. Our new facility will be roughly 200,000 square feet, which expands our ability for programming and for students to be active tremendously. A lot of planning, thought and hard work has gone into the design, and we’re positive it will be one of the best rec centers in the country.”

Fourth-semester speech, language and hearing sciences major Cori Myjack said she is very excited for the new gym.

 Jonathan the mascot poses with UConn's Rec Center behind an I-Beam signed by UConn students. The beam will be added to the rest of the Rec Center's frame on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Jonathan the mascot poses with UConn's Rec Center behind an I-Beam signed by UConn students. The beam will be added to the rest of the Rec Center's frame on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

“I’ll be around to see it senior year,” Myjack said. For freshman and sophomores, this gym is their future. They’ll be the first to work out here.

“We’re going to celebrate tomorrow at noon with our ‘Topping Off’ ceremony which celebrates the final phase of the steelwork of our building,” Dalfonso said. So if you missed your chance to sign the beam, you still have an opportunity to take part in this great moment in UConn’s history.

50 years from now, everyone who signed the beam will be able to say they were there when this monumental building was just being constructed. It will be here long after all of the students currently enrolled at UConn graduate, so it’s pretty cool that the names of hundreds of students will be preserved for years to come. It’s a way to say we were here, even when all the teachers and students who would remember us have left.


Rebecca Maher is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.maher@uconn.edu.