Assistant Sports Editor, Matthew Breault
Utica College received a $2 million gift commitment to expand facilities and will begin construction on a new multipurpose, synthetic turf athletic field and eight-lane outdoor track next year.
President Laura Casamento made the announcement, which will impact the college and almost 700 student athletes, in a campus-wide memo sent on Nov. 17. The college will reveal the donor’s name in the near future.
“Together with other private gifts, this most recent leadership gift will cover 100 percent of the total $3.5 million project,” Casamento said in the email. “The new facility, which will be located behind the Clark Athletic Center adjacent to Gaetano Stadium and the baseball field, will include lighting for evening events and bleacher seating for 200 spectators.”
With the addition of this new facility, teams such as field hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer, softball and track and field will all be provided with a critically needed practice venue on synthetic turf, which will allow training regardless of weather conditions.
The College aimed to help student-athletes who have been restricted this semester while also trying to attract future athletes and help teams out with recruiting.
Utica College Assistant Track and Field Coach John Boisette said he is excited for this opportunity for his athletes and the entire Utica College athletic program.
“Not only will this new facility help improve athletes performance and the flexibility of practice areas, it could also help create unity between teams,” Boisette said. “When it comes to recruiting, not only will athletes get a feel for the support system they will have by the coaching staff, but they will also have a larger physical image to look at how the college as a whole supports athletics.”
Sophomore All-American Long Jumper and school record-holder Kelsey Wands was surprised to hear the news, but was excited that the college decided to expand facilities.
“I have always loved the dome here and that is one of the reasons why I chose to do track and field here,” Wands said. “I always wished we had an outdoor track here so now that we will next fall, this will help improve the whole Utica College track and field program overall.”
Both the track and field team and coaching staff are happy for the opportunity to practice outside, instead of inside the Todd & Jen Hutton Sports & Recreation Center.
“We have national talent on our team and this new facility with the eight-lane outdoor track will help our program have a sturdier foundation to amplify our brand,” Boisette said. “When it comes to athletics, this new facility will send a direct message to our alumni and current athletes that their dedication in the classroom, on the field and on the track has been recognized.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Utica College athletics have been postponed until the end of the semester, with just a small glimpse of hope to be able to continue play next semester. Wands believes this is just what student-athletes needed in order to provide them something to look forward to.
“I feel this announcement is important for student-athletes because of the hardships we’ve faced during this pandemic,” Wands said. “I am really looking forward to what is in store for us now that we have a new facility coming soon.”