ERIN GANNON ’19
A & E EDITOR
The enormous construction projects visible from the Lower Long Walk are reportedly within budget and on schedule, according to Mike Renwick, Director of Athletics and Recreation and Chair of Physical Education. The construction that has begun to take the shape of athletic fields is actually two separate projects conducted by the Athletics Department.
The first ongoing project, currently near completion, is the renovation of Jessee/Miller field, home to the Football and Men’s Lacrosse teams, and the surrounding track complex. The second project is the construction of entirely new baseball, softball, and soccer venues.
The renovations to Jessee/Miller field began shortly after the Football team’s final home game last November. “The day after the [homecoming] game, we had a couple of alums who knew that we were tearing up the field and wanted to take some mementos, so they took a couple pieces and swatches of the turf, and that kind of started it,” Renwick said in an interview with WRTC’s Bob Parzych.
The Athletics Department had been monitoring the Jessee/Miller field for the past several years. “The surface, along with the surrounding track, had reached a point where, regardless of the football team’s home winning streak, needed to be replaced,” Renwick said. “Turf fields do erode over time and we felt it was time for our field to be replaced based on our testing.” The new field is made of a synthetic turf installed by the same company that placed the former turf, made of a rubber-sand infill mix, and “plays pretty close to what you would get from natural grass.”
The Board of Trustees and the College Leadership, who are responsible for final approvals of all capital projects on campus, approved the baseball, softball, and soccer fields project the last week in June.
The new fields project has been in discussion for the better part of a decade, and construction started on July 1. “The summer was very kind to us, weather-wise, and the project is currently on or slightly ahead of schedule,” said Renwick. “So long as the fall and early winter are kind weather-wise as well, the project should complete by early to mid-December.”
Members of the Trinity community traveling on the Lower Long Walk can observe that the softball field is near completion, which has raised questions concerning the softball team’s season is in the spring. Renwick noted that this was because of the grading of the fields. “From the high side of where the softball field is (where the women’s soccer field was) to the low side, there was a seven-foot difference in height.”
Construction workers had to level the women’s soccer field first in order to reuse resources, moving excess dirt into that area to fill in the disparity. Additionally, the Department was only authorized to move a certain amount of earth at a time by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
In addition to the field upgrades, all of the new venues will be connected by a paved footpath. The fields were not previously connected by any type of path or road, which was common complaint about the previous layout.
Once the softball field is finished, the lights surrounding the soccer field will be installed, and then sod will be put down on the new soccer field. Construction crews will then move over to start work on the baseball facility, which is expected to be completed by the middle of December.
The total cost of the two projects is $6.2 million, and is completely financed by donations. “As it pertains to the College budget,” Renwick says, “this project is not using any College monies.” The department claims to be operating “well within” the budget and plan to do so throughout the project.
Thus far, construction has been relatively conflict-free. The Athletics Department spent a considerable amount of time honing the details and design of the project to avoid as many surprises as possible. According to Renwick, “that time has paid off tremendously.”
In addition to the renovation and construction of outdoor facilities, Ferris Athletic Center was upgraded over the summer. A pool heater was added to the Trinity Natatorium, which had previously been heated by an auxiliary system. Office spaces were also renovated.
Perhaps the most anticipated renovation by the student body, however, was the new layout of the Hazelton Fitness Center. The layout of the weight and cardio room was redesigned to optimize the potential of the space, while making room for more weight equipment. “There’s more to come on that front,” Renwick told WRTC. “We really went with the equipment first, and now we’ll focus on how we can change the room aesthetically. We plan to update it with new TVs, and one of the things we’re really working hard to add is what’s called a ‘cardio theater’ to every cardio machine, meaning that each has their own TVs. Users can plug in their phones and iPods and actually interface with the technology with all of the different fitness apps they have so they can now capture all of that data on their devices.”
The upgrades will benefit not only varsity athletes, but students participating in recreational athletics as well. Renwick commented that the addition of the lights surrounding the football and soccer fields will be particularly helpful on that front, allowing for far more scheduling flexibility between varsity practices, varsity competitions, and recreational events.
“We’re excited about the change in landscape and what it’s going to mean and how we’re going to be able to utilize that space certainly for our varsity sports,” Renwick said, “but also for the way the space can be used for our club sports and intramurals as well. We’re pretty excited for what it means for us as a community as a whole.”
ERIN GANNON ’19