Fundraising for South Campus field project underway

<p>Softball coach John Tschida and women’s soccer captain Callan Faulkner both mentioned the easily-torn up grass as one reason for the plan to turf the soccer and softball fields. (Rita Kovtun/TommieMedia)</p>
Softball coach John Tschida and women’s soccer captain Callan Faulkner both mentioned the easily-torn up grass as one reason for the plan to turf the soccer and softball fields. (Rita Kovtun/TommieMedia)

St. Thomas is in the first stages of fundraising for the South Campus field project, which will fund turfing the soccer and softball fields by McCarthy Gym.

“We’re really just kind of starting to kick it off now,” said Dennis Czech, gift officer and project manager.

He said the project would also include a softball scoreboard, extra bleachers and a press box for soccer.

The overall goal for the project is $2 million, and more than half of the money will go to the surface. St. Thomas is looking for donations of $1,000 to $250,000 to meet this sum.

Junior Callan Faulkner, women’s soccer captain, said the grass needs to be turfed because “right now both the boys and the girls (play) on the grass field. It just gets so torn up.”

Softball coach John Tschida said other groups besides the soccer and softball teams want to use the fields but can’t because the teams can’t afford to have the grass torn up even more.

“There has to be some limitation, because you have practices and everything else going on, and you have to keep an eye on the facilities,” Tschida said.

Another reason the soccer field will be turfed is because it’s smaller than regulation size. Tschida said the field needs to get up to par with regulation, so the team can host playoff games.

Tschida said that the upkeep of the field takes a lot of time and effort.

“For softball, we drag the field almost every day,” he said. “Then you got to line it every day.”

Tschida said it sometimes takes more than six hours to get the field ready, and it seems like the artificial turf will pay for itself in the long run.

Czech said all the money will come from alumni donations and others who are interested. He said he already has a group in mind and believes they will have the project fund well on its way by Dec. 1.

“My goal is to raise enough where we can break ground next spring,” said Czech. “I think that’s realistic, but it’s not guaranteed.”

No teams will participate in fundraising for the fields.

“We just want them to play and not worry about those things (and) same with the coaches,” Czech said.

He said it’s “a networking process (that) just kind of grows… until you get to the magic number.”

Faulkner believes that the fundraising process will help the teams build a stronger relationship with the soccer and softball alumni.

“None of the alumni were contacted for the athletic center because it was on north campus,” Faulkner said. “This is the beginning of getting in contact with them.”

Tschida thinks turfing the field is not really for the teams but “more of getting the field available for all the students and making it match the rest of the school.”

He recalled a time when he brought a few students onto the field, who then asked where the team played its games.

“You’re not impressing anybody with the facilities we have now,” Tschida said. “But that’s not what makes a team live.”

He believes it’s about creating a better environment for the players.

Czech also believes that the turfed field will tie in the entire campus with the recently constructed Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex and Anderson Student Center, the turfed baseball and football fields, and the just renovated McCarthy Gym.

As Czech said, “there’s one piece to the puzzle left out there.”

Rita Kovtun can be reached at