Raider Pavilion’s grand reopening celebrates the Moorpark Athletic Department’s bright future ahead


(Left to right) Janice Parvin, Julius Sokenu, Greg Gillespie and Josh Chancer cut the ribbon to celebrate Moorpark College’s grand reopening of Raider Pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Danny Stipanovich

Moorpark College celebrated as the newly renovated Raider Sports Pavilion was unveiled for the first time to the public on Saturday at 2 p.m. The day included guided tours of the new facility, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and followed up with a Moorpark Raiders Men’s Basketball victory.

Dr. Julius Sokenu, Interim President at Moorpark College, was proud to at long last show off the finished product of the gym to the excited guests awaiting to see the Raiders’ new home during Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We are deeply excited about the new learning and athletic opportunities this modernized facility will provide current and future students,” Sokenu said.

Dr. Julius Sokenu, Moorpark College's interim President, welcomes the public to the grand reopening of Moorpark's gymnasium on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Guests were taken on a tour throughout Raider Pavilion as student-athletes showed off the brand new facilities, of which included a weight room five times larger than the previous one, elevators, new fitness studios lined up with treadmills, a wet room with ice and hot baths, a newly added equipment office for storage and laundry, locker rooms, a fitness center for wrestling practice and team rooms along with a 4,000 square foot field house at the track.

The tours were followed up by the ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new gymnasium. Dr. Julius Sokenu, VCCCD board member John Chancer, VCCCD Chancellor Dr. Greg Gillepsie and Mayor Jance Parvin had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon, commemorating a new beginning of Raiders athletics.

Guests gather around the entrance of the new gymnasium to celebrate Raider Pavilion's grand reopening at Moorpark College on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Following the ceremony, the Men’s Basketball team welcomed Cuesta College for the first sporting event in the newly completed gym. During the halftime show, the 2000 and 2001 Western State Conference championship teams were honored along with TK Reed, a former star player who passed away in 2015. Reed’s jersey, #23 was retired in remembrance.

However, the newly installed lights at Raider Pavilion did not last the entire afternoon. During halftime of Moorpark’s home game against Cuesta College, a power outage left the entire crowd in darkness for over a minute, reminiscent of how student-athletes at Moorpark felt during the construction of the gym.

Renovations of Raider Pavilion started in August 2018, when student-athletes and staff at Moorpark had to sacrifice eighteen months of improper training and treatment while the new gym was under construction.

The past year, sophomore forward Tim Andreolli and the men’s basketball team along with the other sports at Moorpark were left without a weight room.

“We did not have anything, nothing special,” Andreolli said.

Cherisse Meichtry, the Head Athletic Trainer at Moorpark, was forced to move her athletic training space to an annex with no water storage, equipment storage space or even a place to wash hands, while still taking care of over 60 athletes every day seeking rehabilitation or healing attention.

“We only had two treatment tables for 16 sports for the whole fall season, which was extremely challenging,” Meichtry said. “We had to utilize a grassy hill. Our rehab had to be done outside.”

Now, Meichtry and the athletic training team at Moorpark have their own space with eight treatment tables, multiple ice baths, and plenty of space for her work.

For sophomore Sophia Cortina, Moorpark’s 2019 cross country state champion, the construction left her without an appropriate place to shower. Track and field athletes had to use a temporary locker room or walk up the hill to the Performing Arts Center as they waited for their new locker room to open.

Cortina described the temporary locker room as old and yellowing.

“It looked like the bathroom from ‘SAW’,” Cortina said. “It was so scary.”

Fortunately for Cortina and the rest of the student-athletes and staff at Moorpark College, they no longer have to use run-down equipment, and will now appreciate the new facilities even greater than before.

Vance Manakas, Moorpark College's Athletic Director, speaks to guests attending the grand reopening of Raider Pavilion at Moorpark College on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Vance Manakas, Moorpark College's Athletic Director, speaks to guests attending the grand reopening of Raider Pavilion at Moorpark College on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Vance Manakas, Athletic Director at Moorpark College, acknowledged the hardships that staff and student-athletes endured during the 18-month long renovation period.

“They have survived, and because of this experience, they will be stronger,” Manakas said. “The students, coaches, staff, of Moorpark College have endured less than ideal situations for this last year and a half and even longer.”

Eventually, the Raider Pavilion’s lights came back on Saturday afternoon. With the sudden shift in lighting, it seemed as if they glimmered brighter than before. With a new Raider Pavilion, Moorpark College Athletics is also prepared to shine brighter than ever as they start a new chapter.