HOK Masters Athletics

//PICTURED ABOVE: At an Open House on May 6th and 7th, Director of Athletics, Deb Surgi, speaks with an HOK architect regarding the upcoming Athletic Master Plan. The Open House allowed the Hockaday community to express their ideas, feedback and dreams for the future of Hockaday Athletics.


Which animals are best at sports? A scorpion. What do you call a monkey that wins back-to-back titles? A chimpion. What can you serve but never eat? A ball. What can you serve but never eat? A ball. What kind of swimming stroke can you use on toast? A BUTTER-fly!

Although these jokes are hilarious, athletics is no joke at Hockaday. Because athletics is one of Hockaday’s four founding Cornerstones, the school is committed to integrating athletics across the student experience and making athletics a center of enjoyment, connection and inclusivity for everyone in the community. In order to further the School’s dedication to sports and wellness, Hockaday has announced that an Athletics Master Plan is on track to be completed in the fall of 2019.

Eugene McDermott Head of School Dr. Karen Warren Coleman and Director of Athletics Deb Surgi are leading the direction of the Athletics Master Planning process, and several members of the Administration, Leadership Team, faculty, and staff are working to support this important initiative.

“Our Athletic Master Plan affords us the opportunity to transform our culture as well as our physical campus,” Surgi said. “[We hope to create] an athletic culture which promotes not only the means to championships but offer[s] unique and innovative opportunities that foster a healthy lifestyle.”

HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, which significant experience in sports and recreation planning and design, was recently chosen by a careful selection committee.

“[The architects] were selected based on their profound appreciation for our institutional values, the Four Cornerstones and our ambitions for the quality of the student experience,” Coleman announced.

Surgi also believes that HOK is perfectly suited to lead the Athletics Master Planning effort.

“This is about shaping the campus for decades to come,” Surgi said.

Right now, the Master Plan is in step one of a six-month process: the discovery stage. They are evaluating and gathering information from the physical campus and gathering tons of feedback from the community. Over the summer, they will be working to design and develop preliminary ideas.

In the fall, HOK will present their plan to the community, gather feedback and perhaps make additional refinements. In parallel, HOK will be working on design renderings, site plans, phasing plan, cost estimate.

The architects have been very involved with the Hockaday community, hosting numerous inclusive meetings with campus constituents, and recently hosted two Open Houses hosted on both May 6 and 7. They have received ideas and input from all parts of the school and extended community.

Lynn Carlton, the regional leader of planning for HOK’s Kansas City and Columbus practices, is the site developer and main planner for Hockaday’s project.

“The master plan will document everyone’s ideas,” Carlton said.

Mia Weathersby, a rising Hockaday senior and volleyball captain for the 2019 season, attended one of the several meetings with the architects on April 15.

“They encouraged everyone to speak up. We went around and talked about what we hoped to see change,” Weathersby said. “They got a lot of input from a variety of people who otherwise would not have said anything.”

During the Open Houses, HOK architects swarmed Great Hall, readily available to answer questions, share information and simply talk about the plans. It was an interactive environment where they encouraged everyone to write a sticky note about what they wanted to see change or add stickers besides the facility that is most important to them.

This Open House format reached a wide variety of people — not only did students fill the room but also alumni, trustees, coaches, faculty and teachers.

Everyone that attended the meetings and the Open Houses were able to share their ideas and dreams for the new Athletics Plan.

Surgi hopes that the future athletic facility and overall campus environment can be a place where every person feels comfortable to refuel and have a great experience. She envisions a welcoming space for students and the community.

“That is when spirit and community are created,” Surgi explains.

Coordinator of Athletic Operations, Laboris Bean, explains that HOK even went as far as asking sport-specific questions.

“The architects said, ‘We realize that you are the Head Coach of Track and Field, [so] what is your ideal track’?” Bean explained.

HOK is doing a great job on honing in on every detail of athletics and wellness, and they are representing the sometimes forgotten cornerstone.

The Four Cornerstones, founded by Ela Hockaday in 1913, were very progressive for that time. Miss Hockaday named athletics as one of her cornerstones, which was a very progressive move given that in the early 20 century; it was unusual to promote athletics among young women.

“A strong moral character, thoughtful nature, intellectual curiosity and adherence to athletic pursuits create the well-rounded Hockaday girl,” Miss Hockaday stated.

As explained in her words, athletics, recreation and wellness are necessary to be a well-rounded woman.

Agreeing with Hockaday, Melinda Nun?ez, Health & Physical Education Teacher and Health 101 Coordinator, believes that the athletics cornerstone stretches beyond the school.

“I feel so strongly that the Athletics Cornerstone really is a cornerstone of everyone’s lives,” Nun?ez said.

She explains the importance of athletics and wellness, stating that movement, recreation and sports are preparing students beyond college.

“We are preparing [students] for their life. I think that this Athletics Master Plan is truly trying to reflect the athletic cornerstone as a whole, not just the competition side,” Nun?ez said.

Surgi said to the school at the first pep rally that “there is an athlete inside everyone.” The hope is that this Athletics Master Plan will lead to something that can reveal the athlete in everyone.

What is future holds is still uncertain. Graduating senior Isabella Shadle has high hopes for the future of Hockaday Athletics.

“With these new facilities, I believe that Hockaday athletics have the ability to transform into a very successful program, encouraging every student to be a part of athletics in some way, whether it be on a team, or in the gym or enjoying the new facilities,” Shadle said.

HOK is hoping to jump-start the process as soon as possible, starting with simple projects such as signage or wayfinding.

“We are hoping that there are “low hanging fruit” as we call them, the easy things, that can be done— some will be more long term,” Carlton said.

With HOK’s dedication and commitment to the community’s input and their desire to hear the comments within Hockaday, the Athletics Master Plan is sure to consider everyone’s hopes.

Coach Surgi encourages anyone with a potential idea, question or comment to email her directly at DSurgi@hockaday.org.


Story by Kate Clark

Photo by Velayzia Scott

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Kate Clark

Kate Clark is a sophomore who loves to rock her purple Crocs. She also enjoys frolicking around on playgrounds, and her favorite playground activity is the swings. Warning: don’t get stuck in the baby swings.

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