New Places to Play
Following one of its most successful sports season ever, Bates unveiled plans for three new outdoor athletics facilities: an outdoor track and field, a softball field, and an all-purpose synthetic turf field.
The track and softball fields will be beyond Merrill Gymnasium, near the corner of Russell and Lafayette streets, while the turf field will be adjacent to John Bertram Hall along Campus Avenue.
The new facilities brings Bates a step closer to its 1992 master campus plan, which foreshadowed several new capital projects, including the extension of athletic fields beyond Merrill. “Just as Pettengill Hall in 1999 and the Residential Village in 1993 added important elements to the Bates community, so, too, do these athletic fields champion yet another important place for learning,” said President Harward.The plans were announced as Bates was concluding a fall sports season that saw varsity teams win nearly seven out of every 10 contests. Teams captured five Colby-Bates-Bowdoin and Maine championships and produced five All-Americans. “Our teams’ recent success, coupled with the addition of new facilities, is making Bates an increasingly attractive place for prospective student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Suzanne Coffey.
Construction begins in spring or early summer; teams will compete on their new surfaces by spring 2001.
The new outdoor track and field will allow Bates, one of the top track and field programs in New England, to host outdoor track events for the first time since 1976, when the asphalt outdoor track at Garcelon Field became obsolete.
The new eight-lane bi-radial track will have a polyurethane surface and a 10-lane straightaway, similar to those used in European track designs. The natural-grass infield will be large enough for an entire soccer pitch, providing use in both the spring and fall.
The new softball field, adjacent to the track, replaces the Russell Street Field now home to the James Wallach ’64 Tennis Complex, made possible by the generosity of the Wallach family in his memory. The softball facility will include permanent, enclosed dugouts, while a portable outfield fence will allow other sports to use the field space during softball’s off-season. This spring, the Bates softball team will play its home games off campus on a Lewiston municipal field.
The proposed synthetic turf field, to be the home field for varsity field hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse, will be adjacent to John Bertram Hall. The site has been used for football and men’s lacrosse practice and club rugby.
New England Division III schools increasingly see synthetic turf fields as a practical and economical alternative to maintaining grass fields. At Bates, heavy use by a growing number of intramural, club, and varsity programs (Bates has nearly 50) turns some campus practice fields – especially the JB field – nearly to dirt each year. Along with Bates, Bowdoin plans a turf field in 2000.
And field hockey “can be played at a much higher quality on an artificial surface,” said Bates head coach Wynn Hohlt.
With lighting, the turf field will be used into the evening for practice in fall and spring; spring sports relegated to the gym for early-season workouts will now emerge far earlier in the fickle Maine spring, whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow.
Club and intramural programs stand to benefit from playing at night, ending field conflicts with varsity programs. “This field opens up so many possibilities for the whole Bates community,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Marsha Graef, who coordinates Bates’ club and intramural programs.
Kills and Chemistry
Amanda Colby ’00 of Willimantic, Conn., is only the second Bobcat to earn both academic and athletic All-American in the same year, joining track and field standout Jamie Goodberlet ’85.
The middle hitter ended her career as Bates’ all-time leader in kills (1,805), total attacks (3,582) and hitting percentage (36.8). She ranks among the top-10 all-time in all three categories in NCAA Division III. Bates finished 33-6 and won their second ECAC Division III North championship.
Colby, the Maine Player of the Year in 1999, and Rachel Clayton ’90 are the only Bates volleyball All-Americans.
With a 3.67 grade-point average, Colby earned second-team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. She presented her biochemistry research, to be published in the journal Chirality, at the International Symposium on Chiral Discrimination.