BY BRYNN BOYER
Sunday mornings during football season, senior Megan McCrum walks behind the parking deck to the field by Route 1 to play intramural flag football, oftentimes coming back covered in mud if the game is the day after a rainstorm. Night games would be ideal for her team’s schedule, but because the field is unlit, it gets too dark to play.
“The field can get really torn up,” McCrum said, “and right now we’re limited to having games on Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons.”
In a year, the $1.5 million project to renovate Goolrick field will open, giving intramural and club teams a facility that will resolve many of the current complaints regarding the field. According to President Rick Hurley, they hope construction will begin this May so that the field will be complete by next fall, just in time for fall sports.
The project, which has been in the works for at least a year and is currently in the design stage, will provide the intramural and club teams with a brand-new venue. With a synthetic surface on the entire area, a small structure for restrooms as well as lights on the premises, the outdoor sports complex will allow students to play games or hold practices regardless of the time of day or previous weather conditions.
“The lights will allow students to play on the field well into the evening where before they had to stop at sundown,” Hurley said. “The field should also allow students to get on it regardless of the weather, where before mud prevented many activities from taking place on the field.”
According to Athletic Director Ed Hegmann, the area will consist of two large fields, measuring 50 by 80 yards that will be side by side with a ten yard buffer in between. The two fields will run in one direction on the turf. Running in the opposite direction on the turf, there will be lines for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. Although the final dimensions for the alternate field have not been finalized, the field will be full-sized allowing for the possibility of club sports holding games at the facility. There will also be two softball fields and a baseball practice field. Both the large fields, softball fields, and practice field will have permanent lines.The new facility will replace the current grass fields that have been in use at least as long as the 31 years Hegmann has been at Mary Washington.
“The design is really appealing,” McCrum said. “It seems like they’ll be able to accommodate more teams and it’ll be more convenient for the players.”
Women’s club soccer co-captain, junior Christine Exley, agreed. “We’ll be able to hold our equipment at the field instead of bringing it with us, so life will be nice,” she said. “Plus, having lights will allow us to have later practices and, especially since we’re all girls, we’ll feel more secure down there later at night,” Exley said. “We’re thrilled to get the chance to hold home games in a new complex.”
Longwood University is also in the design stages for building a new campus recreation outdoor sports complex that will include artificial turf and lights. At Randolph-Macon College, the intramural teams use a grass field that is not lit.
An advantage to the proposed field is that the school will end up saving money in the long run because of the synthetic surface. Hegmann explained that compared to a grass field, a synthetic playing surface is much easier to maintain and therefore much less expensive. “The money you save in maintenance is huge,” Hegmann said.
Campus Recreation Director Mark Mermelstein feels that the new facility will “be a big win for the University.”
“This is a huge addition for campus recreation,” he said. “The students are excited for a more permanent space.”
Mermelstein also said that in addition to more athletic opportunities, the new field will allow other groups such as OSACS to hold events and activities at the venue. This should allow all students, regardless of whether they play a sport, to take advantage of the space.
Although the field will be primarily for the use of the intramural and club teams, varsity sports will also have the opportunity to hold practices there when it is not in use, according to Hegmann. According to the contract, the design team for the project was recently named to be Richmond based Clough, Harbour & Associates. The firm currently also has athletic projects ongoing at George Washington University, James Madison University and Duke University.
Despite the cuts to next year’s budget, Hurley insisted that the Goolrick field will not be affected.
“Construction projects like this will not be impacted by the cuts,” he said.
Although McCrum is excited about the new facility, her only criticism is that since she’ll be graduating this year, she won’t be able to take advantage of it. “It sounds like such a good idea!” she said. “Too bad my team and I won’t be able to enjoy it.”