The goal for the New Field House was simple: to make athletes “feel like you’re outdoors in the dead of winter.”
The 20-degree temperatures and typical snowfall in Clinton can often be a hindrance to outdoor athletes, because the only indoor athletic facility on campus was the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House. But last month, the opening of a new indoor space changed this.
About 50 yards long and 70 yards wide, the New Field House comprises a field made of the same synthetic surface as Withiam Field and Steuben Field and the same field that lines the baseball and softball diamonds, allowing outdoor athletes to play on a game-like surface, unlike the court floor that is in Margaret Bundy Scott Field House.
“I had been thinking about the need for this new facility for a while, and then it really took root about three years ago,” Athletic Director Jon Hind ’80 said. “Between the snow and the mud and the freezing cold winds, it’s a really nice place to be able to go and feel like you’re outdoors in the dead of winter.”
Since opening, the facility is already being used by varsity athletes, but has also been used by men and women’s rugby, intramural soccer, and ultimate frisbee.
“A lot of times we build facilities over here and the first perspective on it is, ‘oh, that must be for athletics,’ but in all honesty, every facility we build is for everyone,” Hind said. “The varsity teams will use it, but we also have a lot of outdoor club teams and intramural programming, so it’s really a building for everybody, and we’re really excited about that.”
The two field house facilities are connected so that athletes can access the New Field House without stepping foot outside. The synthetic field inside has lines drawn for lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, and football, and there is state-of-the-art protective netting along the perimeter that can withstand 400-500 pounds of force at full speed. In addition, coaches have the ability to film practices from above through a built-in panel.
Prior to last month, all intramural programming, club teams, and varsity athletes would compete for time in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House as it was the only indoor athletic facility.
“Another huge reason of needing this new facility was to create another surface for people and move everyone out of the field house so that in there, we could just focus on the tennis courts, basketball, and indoor track and field,” Hind said. “This really gives us another playing surface year-round … It’s already a building that from around 4 in the afternoon until midnight is staying very busy.”
Along with a synthetic field, the New Field House has a private batting cage with a pitching machine for baseball and softball players.
“The fact that the hitting room has, I’ll use the word exclusivity, not from the standpoint that it is exclusive to our two sports, but the fact that our kids can use it at any given time because it’s closed off and doesn’t interfere with the rest of the facility is huge, because there’s not a time that they can’t use it,” head baseball coach Tim Byrnes said.
“Having a roof over your head as you get into the October, November, December months allows you to play in a climate-controlled environment, so they’re able to get game simulation and be able to do it later in the day around their schedules. A lot of them use it as a stress reliever as they get into finals week, and they’re able to go in there late at night and take some ground balls or just hit.”
A new software called HitTrax, used by many Major League Baseball teams, was installed in the batting cage to monitor ball flight and exit velocity. Byrnes is excited that the new space is motivating athletes to practice in their own time and hone their skills.
“They’re already taking advantage of the ability to get in there and improve their skill sets,” Byrnes said. “With this new facility, they’re doing it. They want to be in there.”