Outdoor Construction Leads To Concerns for Athletes

By J1 Reporter Reagan Rosenbaum

Marian track as of Thursday January 27, 2022. Photo by Reagan Rosenbaum

This winter, Marian started renovations on the outdoor sports facilities such as the soccer fields, the tennis courts, the track, the softball fields, and a new plaza and concessions area. Since this project only began at the start of December, most of these new renovations will not be done in time for the start of the spring season. This means that the teams will have to find alternatives for home games and practices.

This project was made possible by the $6 million fundraising campaign that took place. An article on Marian’s website breaks down the approximate cost of each area: the plaza and concessions stand is $1.2 million, the soccer fields are $1.3 million, the track is $1.8 million, the softball facilities are $300,000, the tennis courts are $50,000, and other improvements such as new bleachers, extending dugouts, and repaving the lower lot total to around $1.35 million.

“I do think that it will be hard not having home fields (at Marian) while the renovation is going on,” sophomore Lexi Cowles said. Cowles was a member of the Reserve soccer team during the 2021 season; she is no stranger to the many ankle-breaking holes that crowd the practice field and the uneven terrain that causes the ball to bounce everywhere. 

But spring sport athletes are not the only ones who will benefit from the new construction. Junior Payton Kincaid has been a member of the softball team since her freshman year. “I am very excited about the new fields but I am not sure if they will be done in time,” Kincaid said. “But I think the new fields will hopefully bring in larger groups of fans and excite more people to attend games.”

In sports or in any sort of competition, home field advantage has a greater impact on the teams than one would initially expect. Things such as the familiarity of the facilities, the presence of family and friends and simply the color the fans are wearing in the stands, can all lead to the home team feeling like they have a better chance of coming out on top.

While Marian soccer will have to call Tranquility fields “home” for the season, Cowles said she “thinks it’ll be hard not having home field advantage,” as in playing at Marian.

Fellow sophomore Grace Simet, shares many of the same opinions as her former teammate. “I am very excited for this project! I think Marian deserves these new fields,” Simet said.

Both Cowles and Simet said they are looking forward to the turf fields that will be installed. While some cons of turf fields include increased surface temperatures in summer and painful turf burns, they allow for much more flexibility which can especially come in handy during the unpredictable Nebraska spring. 

Kincaid discussed that with the current softball fields, “all the holes in the field make the ball bounce in all sorts of directions.” This can make it very problematic for when the teams are trying to field the ball or they end up sliding right into a hole. 

“With regular fields, you have to wait for them to dry out before you can play, but you don’t have to worry about this with turf,” Cowles said. A weather inconvenience is something that outdoor sport athletes know all too well. The rescheduling of games can be a nightmare due to the limited number of turf fields available; playing on a wet grass field can lead to injury and destruction of the ground itself. “When it rains, the mound gets all muddy and it just turns into a big mess,” Kincaid said. 

Simet said she is also looking forward to the accessibility of the new fields. “I enjoy playing on turf because it creates a faster paced game, better ball control, and it is a lot smoother to play on than grass,” Simet said. 

“I am very excited to actually have a press box, and the fact that we will no longer have to walk up a big hill just to get to the concession stand,” Kincaid said.

Regardless of any inconvenience this project might bring to the athletes, Simet, Kincaid and Cowles say they are very excited for the new construction. They believe it will bring larger crowds of fans to games and hopefully continue to build the sports community at Marian.

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