Academy boosting the role of student athlete

Construction completed on sports facility

San Diego Jewish Academy last month completed construction of a state-of-the-art multi-sport facility, giving a boost to the school’s burgeoning athletic programs.

The centerpiece of the 40,000 square foot facility is a 15,000 square foot gymnasium that includes basketball and volleyball courts, locker rooms, and weight training room, administrative office space, along with an expansive music room.

The facility also includes outdoor tennis courts and parking lots.

The estimated cost of the facility is $7 million, Athletic Director Charlie Wund said.

The facility construction reflects a drastic shift in the school’s athletic program since SDJA opened its doors to high school students eight years ago with an athletics program described as participatory-oriented.

The athletic facility construction is the culmination of a revamping of the school’s entire sports facilities that began two years ago with the building of a 100,000 square foot outdoor sports facility for football, soccer, baseball and softball.

The facility will be open for business when students arrive for the fall semester later this month.

The facility figures to boost school pride, giving indoor sports teams who in years past have had to play home games and practice away from school, actual home games, Wund said, noting that the basketball and volleyball teams have been playing at Alliance International University the last few years.

Currently, about 70 of the school’s 190 students play at least one sport, Wund said.

Wund said basketball and volleyball players have had to travel 20 to 30 minutes each way to get to their practice facilities.

“Its going to raise school spirit a little bit, being able to play sports at home, and at the same time give students more time to study,” Wund said.

“We’ve never had a home varsity basketball game before.”

The objective isn’t to turn SDJA into a sports power, but to create an environment where student athletes aspiring to play at the Div. I or perhaps even professionally will have the tools to fulfill their potential, Wund said.

“Our focus switched from being able to give kids an opportunity to participate in athletics to really raising the level of competition,” he said.

Wund said the program will continue encouraging those who don’t play year-round club sports to compete on teams they might not have a chance at playing at schools where sports is more heavily emphasized.

“Our philosophy is that we want to be able to serve a wide range of our students,” Wund said, noting the inherent value in competing in team sports that includes setting and reaching team goals. “We believe some valuable life lessons are learned in sports. It’s not just for jocks.”