Let's Play, Gaels!

A foundation grant of $500,000 enabled enhancements to an important, much-utilized recreation field. Lacrosse players and students throughout the campus are appreciative, while many community members will be delighted, too.

by Mike Janes, Office of Marketing & Communications | January 10, 2024

Thanks to the generosity of a foundation donor and a strong collaborative effort between several SMC departments, Saint Mary’s lacrosse players, club sports and intramural athletes, community members—as well as students who just want a pickup game of soccer or softball—now have a newly refurbished field available to them. 

The foundation, which wishes to remain anonymous, provided $500,000 toward the restoration of the field, located in the upper sports complex. The all-turf field, provided by Shaw Sports Turf, uses a revolutionary new turf technology known as GameOn, a product used at colleges and universities nationwide.

The new field is decked out with Saint Mary’s branding, giving it a professional look and feel. Lighting improvements were also made by Musco Sports Lighting LLC, the original lighting vendor (at no cost, as the lights were under warranty), allowing students to use the field during evening hours. Members of the external community, too, can look forward to utilizing the field for summer camps, outside competitions, and other uses.

Overhead view of new recreation field
Gaels’ turf: A birds-eye view of the new field. / Photo by Shaw Sports Turf

“We could not be happier about the new turf field,” says Grace Kennedy, president of SMC’s Associated Students and a member of the Women’s Club Lacrosse team. “It’s great to know that club sports teams are being prioritized, and this new field will be very beneficial to all students at Saint Mary’s.”

Kennedy, a senior, noted that—post-pandemic—the lacrosse team hasn’t had a full field on which they could practice or play games. Now, she said, the team can host matches that family and friends can attend.

Lacrosse players on new rec field
Field of dreams: From left, SMC lacrosse players El Uehara, Maggie San Juan, and Grace Kennedy enjoy the new turf field. / Photo by Beckie Harper

Back and better than ever

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in 2020, the field was repurposed for outdoor classes, explains Vice President for Student Life Jim Sciuto. That included pavilions, tents, cement pillars, and other non-athletics material, making the field unsuitable for recreational purposes. Not surprisingly, he said, the field itself suffered, with pivots, weeds, and uneven surfaces that made on-field play unsafe.

“The pavilions and tents served a purpose at the time, but we’re glad to have the field back and available for its appropriate use,” says Sciuto. “In fact, it’s better than ever.”

Behind-the-scenes funding proves critical

Tom Carroll, SMC Associate Vice President and Deputy Athletics Director, says the generosity that moved the project forward was crucial.

“The support of a foundation has allowed us to bring back an important recreation space on campus,” he says. “Philanthropic support is key to creating opportunities to enhance student life at Saint Mary's College, and this project was fast-tracked because of a generous grant. It will truly impact all of our students, as well as the community at large.”

Soccer on new rec field
It's a kick: SMC soccer player Zach Zapata gets in some practice on the newly refurbished recreation field. / Photo by Beckie Harper

Teamwork and collaboration 

Isidro Farias, SMC Vice President for Facilities Services—whose staff members, Jeffrey Kendell and Scott Logan played a lead role in the overall management of the project—notes that the successful completion of the project was enabled by the campus’s collaborative approach.

Kendell and Logan hammered out the vendor contract, ensuring tasks were completed on time, and tending to other project management responsibilities. At the same time, Student Life, Strategic Partnerships and Advancement (SPA), and Club Sports all provided essential contributions. 

“I really appreciate how everyone came together,” says Farias. “There were a lot of details and complexities involved, such as design, parking considerations, Club Sports needs, financing, deadlines, and other matters. Each step of the way, campus partners came through and partnered with us in a spirit of unity.

“It was wonderful to see such great teamwork amongst the campus community,” he says. “Collectively, we’ve delivered a wonderful new recreation field to our students and others in the community.”

LEARN MORE about Saint Mary’s College’s Student Life division, Intramural Leagues, and Club Sports.