There was a different vibe in the air this past Saturday around Brock. It didn’t matter if you were on campus or somewhere around the community, Badger pride seemed to be everywhere. St. Catharines buses were full of students singing and chanting, and everyone was dressed in their spirit attire, some even had their faces painted in “Badger red”.
For the administrators around Brock, it was a moment to enjoy as well. Over three years ago, a plan was created to add an artificial turf field to the school’s campus – it had been an ongoing discussion within the school for over a decade. Finally, as of Sept. 19 the turf field is finally complete.
“Today we begin to celebrate, it’s done,” said Brian Hutchings, Brock University Vice President of Finance and Administration. His opening remarks were followed by a large cheer from the packed bleachers.
Hutchings announced the field name as “Alumni Field” as it represents the contribution and involvement of both present and future alumni. The field cost was $1.5 million – money that was donated by Brock alumni and current students. One such anonymous alumnus donor donated $500,000 toward the project. It’s a field created not just for Brock varsity teams to practice and play home games, but Hutchings echoed that the field was for students first. Alumni Field is open to students up until 11:00 p.m. whenever it is not being used by varsity teams and school intramurals.
“When I go to other campuses like Laurier and I see students out playing frisbee and soccer at ten o’clock at night, to me that’s just part of the student experience,” said Hutchings.
The turf field took many voices for the project to get started. It started with the voice of the students, who BUSU president Kyle Rose called the most important voice.
“A lot of hours. Very simply, it’s taken three years of executive teams to come through before we were here today,” said Rose.
Hutchings and women’s lacrosse player Sarah Paton, both talked about how the women’s team struggled to practice on the old field with practices beginning at 5:45 a.m. The women’s team would park their cars in the parking lot closest to the field and keep their headlights on in order to light the previous playing field.
“Our team faced many challenges, specifically field space and facility timing,” said Paton. “We could not start practice at our original time because we would have to wait for the sun to rise. This made our practices not long enough to learn our plays or participate in all our drills.”
The turf field has full lighting now, so teams will be able to play late games in front of large crowds. Along with the lighting comes a couple sets of bleachers for fans to sit. Hutchings also mentioned plans to put up a large scoreboard opposite of the bleachers. The school hopes to have the scoreboard up in the next couple weeks as everything, including the angle of the lights, had to be approved by the city of St. Catharines.
“Together, we can say so long Sunday afternoon mud battles and hello to crowd-filled Friday night lights,” said Paton, who spoke in front of the Homecoming crowd on behalf of the Badger varsity teams.
Once the opening ceremonies of Alumni Field concluded, Brock’s Homecoming began with the men’s lacrosse team taking the field versus Western University. It didn’t take long for the Badgers to score the first goal on the turf field, as they quickly broke open the scoring with a 3-0 lead. However, that was the last of Brock’s team seeing a lead for the day as Western stormed right back scoring the next eight goals in the game and they took a 9-5 lead into halftime. Western’s lead got as high as six before the Badgers began to find some momentum. With five unanswered goals the Badgers cut Western’s lead to 12-11 late in the fourth quarter. Though, it wasn’t enough to make a full comeback as Western took the first game on Alumni Field 15-13.
Connor Ham and Davis Neal each scored three goals for the Badgers, while Brandon Slade had five assists. The Badgers did however win 13-6 over McMaster on Sunday as they are now 3-1 for the 2015 season.
The next game on the turf field was played by the women’s lacrosse team, who faced off against Laurier. The women’s lacrosse program began three years ago and has risen to new heights faster than one would expect a new program to. Last year they won the silver medal in their league and they have continued that success this season.
The women’s team was the first Badger team to win on Alumni Field as they beat Laurier 9-5 despite the brutal rain. Kendra Byers scored three goals and Breanne Gillie added two goals and an assist. The women are off to a 3-0 start this season as they beat McMaster 12-7 and Guelph 11-8 on Sunday.
Other games for Brock Homecoming included Brock’s women’s soccer losing a 1-0 decision to number eight ranked York University. The women also lost Sunday to Western and now drop to 0-7-1 record this season. The men’s soccer team also lost at Homecoming 1-0 to number one ranked York and dropped Sunday contest versus Western as well. The men are now 1-7-0 this season.
Over on the rugby field, the women’s team got going during the opening ceremonies of Alumni Field. They put up a similar fight like both the soccer teams but came up short 22-17 versus Laurier and are now 0-2 this season. It was a different st ory for the men’s rugby team who came out on top 27-12 over University of Toronto. The men are now 1-2 this season.
Both soccer and rugby teams did not play on the turf field at Homecoming, however, they will get their chance throughout the year. The men’s lacrosse will be hosting more games on the field throughout the year, and the women will have two full day tournaments at Alumni Field this year.
Though the rain and some losses were obstacles in Homecoming 2015, it remains a memorable and historic day.