Beginning late this summer, Centre will welcome one of its varsity sports to campus for the first time in College history.
Thanks to a gift from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust, the College has purchased land and begun to develop Centre’s South Campus—formerly the site of a tobacco warehouse and stockyard—in order to build a softball field and multipurpose athletic field.
According to Brian Chafin, Centre’s athletic director, “the South Campus Fields will mirror the already excellent athletic facilities that Centre College has been able to create over the past ten years.”
A new multipurpose field became necessary as part of the process to build the A. Eugene Brockman Residential Commons, set for completion in August. The footprint of this new facility required that a parking lot and the field hockey field be relocated. The new and improved multipurpose playing field will be home to field hockey and women’s lacrosse, but men’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s soccer will play there on occasion. The field will also see some intramural use.
Both facilities will be completed by August.
The addition of the softball facilities will allow Centre’s NCAA Division III fast-pitch softball team, which became a varsity sport at the College in the 1997-98 school year, to play home games on campus for the first time.
“I’m excited that the College has made the commitment to do this, both for current players and for the past players who helped build the program,” says Wendie Austin-Robinson, Centre’s head softball coach. “I hope this addition will help draw support from the alumni base and draw more fan support on campus.”
Having more accessible facilities is something current players Chelsea Collard ’13, a biology major from Louisville, and Emily Meador ’13, a history and anthropology/sociology double-major from Scottsville, Ky., believe will further enhance the NCAA student-athlete experience.
“There is a misconception about playing Division III athletics: that we just go out and play,” says Meador, who considered playing at other schools before choosing Centre. “But we are extremely competitive, and I enjoy that aspect of it. I appreciate being able to go to a school like this, where I can play and get a great education at the same time.”
“It’s like those NCAA commercials,” she says. “We’re getting prepared to go pro in something else, but we get to play here—now on campus—and it’s awesome.”
Softball alumnae Dr. Marjorie Pilkinton ’05, Erin Grumley ’05 and Lindsey Willett ’08 are excited for current players—and envious.
“I cannot express how exciting this news is and how jealous I am of the girls who will get the opportunity to play on campus,” says Grumley, who works in California as a freelance script supervisor and was the College’s first four-year letter-winning pitcher. “Being on campus will provide student support, which I know the team will appreciate. For prospective students, seeing a school invest time and money into these facilities shows that they are taking this sport seriously. That will stand out to a recruit as she is making her decision.”
Pilkinton, who was named the 2005 Centre College Female Athlete-of-the-Year and is a doctor in residency at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, agrees.
“Current players will not only be able to take pride in their own facilities and have a feeling of ownership and responsibility, they will also finally be a part of the campus community—something we alums have been anxiously waiting to see” she says.
To Willett, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the molecular, cellular and developmental biology program at the University of Louisville, investing in athletic facilities on campus demonstrates Centre’s commitment the student-athlete experience. And that experience, she says, that has prepared her for her future.
“I learned many valuable skills and life lessons during my time as a Centre student and athlete, and many of these skills directly apply to my research at UofL,” says Willett, who remains the College’s only All-Region Softball honoree. “Whether it is performing experiments, writing grants or submitting journal articles for publishing, I realize that much of what I do will fail.
“However, in softball if you fail at bat seven out of 10 times, you are considered an all-star,” she continues. “That is the mindset with which I approach my work. I learned how to stay composed and focused during the ups and downs. That is the only way to succeed.”
Chafin noted that the lighted softball field will include an irrigated NCAA regulation marmix surfaced infield, an irrigated fescue grass outfield, 10 foot high fencing at 200 feet around the entire outfield and a six-foot warning track around the entire perimeter of the playing field. In addition, players will enjoy recessed dugouts with protective padding, as well as batting cages and bullpens. Finally, media will be able to make use of a press box, and fans will enjoy seating areas behind the home plate backstop.
To find out more about athletics at Centre, including facilities for varsity sports and recreation, visitwww.centreathletics.com.