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D'Youville College debuts new $5.5 million field

Buffalo News


While navigating the I-190, Colleen Wiechec couldn’t help but check on the progress of D’Youville College’s new $5.5 million field rising at the foot of Porter Avenue.

The closer it got to being finished for this weekend’s homecoming debut, the more psyched she was. Finally, the soccer team that she played on for four years and now leads as an assistant coach has a field of its own.

Instead of using the Riverside High School field, D’Youville athletes and fans can walk a few blocks from the campus to Porter and Fourth Street, where a Ted’s hot dog stand once stood.

The artificial turf sparkled in Saturday’s sun as officials prepared for the afternoon ribbon-cutting and the women’s soccer team prepared for its first conference game of the season against Mount Aloysius College of Pennsylvania.

The imposing field is regulation size for NCAA Division III soccer and lacrosse. Surrounding it are seven light poles, 60 to 90 feet in height, laden with 87 1,500-watt light fixtures.

Protective netting 20 to 60 feet high surrounds the perimeter of the field.

Other features: grandstand-style bleachers for softball, an athletic service building with locker rooms and showers and state-of-the-art LED scoreboards.

“It’s just something for the girls to be excited about and want to practice every day because it’s their field,” said Wiechec, 22, who is completing graduate studies to become a special education teacher.

“People realize we actually have a soccer team that is good,” she said. The new field “catches your eye.”

Sister Denise A. Roche, president of D’Youville, called the complex “a great addition to the West Side.”

“It just seems to fit right in,” she added.

The college, which was founded in 1908 as a women’s school, went co-ed in the 1970s when men enrolled in its nursing program, which was one of the first in the nation, Roche said.

Now with 2,000 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students, the school has a liberal arts program and a specialty in health-related majors.

The field is now home to some of the school’s 14 sports offerings, including men’s and women’s soccer teams, softball and, eventually, lacrosse.

D’Youville, which is also building a new arts and sciences building on Niagara Street, has been in the midst of a capital campaign.

To build the field, the college bought the old Ted’s site and negotiated with the city for adjacent property. An anonymous gift of more than $2 million helped cover much of the cost.

D’Youville plans to lease the field to other schools and community groups when it isn’t being used for college functions, and hopes to provide camps and clinics to West Side children.

On Saturday morning, it hosted a touch football game of teams in a co-ed adult league.

Although Nathyia Jackson’s team lost by a touchdown, he enjoyed the game – and particularly running on the field, which has a springy, cushy feel.

“It’s good for speed,” he said. “I’m a speed guy, so it’s excellent.”

About an hour later, soccer player Amanda Drake, a D’Youville junior, stepped onto the turf, happy to be playing the conference opener against Mount Aloysius.

It was nice to be close to campus, said Drake.

“We have more of a sense of community here,” she said.

The afternoon game started slow, but the momentum shifted to the D’Youville Spartans, who won 2-0.

Drake gave some credit to the extra fans watching from the new bleachers.

“It definitely helps the atmosphere of the game. ... It gives us more energy out there,” she said.

“We wanted to win either way, but it made it even sweeter that it was on our new field.”

Michael Kerns


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