The Scripps Experience: The Sallie Tiernan Field House


Tiernan Field House Entrance

On a typical sunny afternoon at Scripps, the lounge chairs beside the outdoor pool overflow with studying or socializing student at the Sallie Tiernan Field House, Scripps’s fitness, health, and wellness center.

In recent years, the Field House has logged an annual average of nearly 60,000 visits from 5C community members—not including the meetings and trainings it hosts. Along with the much-loved pool, the 24,000-square-foot facility features an aerobics studio, exercise equipment, and meeting spaces as well an athletics field and sand volleyball court. Individuals, clubs, and athletic teams use the facilities to train, practice, and take advantage of swimming classes, equipment rentals, and the popular FitScripps program of drop-in group yoga, meditation, Zumba, indoor cycling, kickboxing, and hiking sessions.

“Hopefully we offer something for everyone in terms of their fitness and interests,” says Deborah Gisvold, assistant dean and director of the Field House.

Although the Field House welcomes students, faculty, and staff from across the 5Cs, it maintains its original vision of existing first and foremost for Scripps students by holding special hours, fitness classes, and Scripps-only events. Scripps students make up 71 percent of student users annually, and Scripps student coordinators run the facility when the professional staff is away. Each coordinator specializes in a certain area of running the facilities, including payroll, scheduling, and organizing the front desk staff.

Tiernan Field House pool

“We are very student-centered,” Gisvold says. “We try to give the students as much ownership of the facility and agency over what happens in the facility. If things that come up, the assistant director and myself have conversations with the student coordinators to find out their opinions.”

“The Field House has been my favorite part of Scripps,” says student coordinator Carina Schick ’20. “I’ve met my best friends, found a safe and fun space to spend time, and learned so much about the workplace and health,” she says. “Being a coordinator allows me to impact on other students by helping to build a space that is safe and fun for all.”

Tiernan Field House gymThe Field House also works with Scripps students who have been designated Peer Health Educators to organize health and wellness activities and events. These students have received training in topics including nutrition, lifestyle, physical activity, stress, substances, sleep, and mental health. In addition to leading peer-to-peer discussions about these and related topics, the educators recently initiated a weekly social event, Destress Thursdays, to help students relax, reenergize, and learn stress-management techniques; activities have included journaling, crafting glitter jars, and making DIY sugar scrubs. Identifying a need for late-night, weekend programming, the Peer Health Educators also initiated Fridays at the Field House, an ongoing event series that has featured karaoke, Wii, pool parties, movies, and a fire pit with s’mores.

Neuroscience major  ’18 has been a Peer Health Educator for four years and has completed BACCHUS Peer Educator, Monsour, Tri-City Mental Health, and Bright Roads recovery training, among others. “My favorite memory is the first time we did chest casting, in 2015.” Thomason says. “The Peer Health Educator program was brand new, and we were still trying to see where the group was going to fit into the campus community. Over 100 people showed up, and the chest casting seemed to really shift people’s attitudes about their bodies. The event created a really empowering space for me.”

“It takes a community. It’s really about touching base with everybody because we all interact with students but on different levels,” Gisvold says. “I think we can do even more.”

For more information about Sallie Tiernan Field House Events and Programs, click here.