Q—There seems to have been quite a bit of activity lately in terms of improvements at various athletic facilities on campus. Can you bring us up-to-date?
Earl Edwards- The quality of a collegiate athletic program’s facilities relates directly to its ability to have long term competitive success. Not only do facilities affect a given team’s on-field performance, but they play a major role in recruiting, branding and income potential. In just the first few months of 2013, we’ve had the good fortune to complete several facility enhancement projects as well as initiate the revenue generation necessary to kick start two other significant endeavors.
New scoreboards debuted at the Triton Track & Field Stadium and Triton Ballpark, home of the UCSD baseball team. Each has its own unique story. The state-of-the-art Daktronics videoboard rising from the south end of the track & field stadium is named for two former student-athletes, Leon T. Roach III and Shannon Quigley Runningbear, who both tragically passed away in the last several years. The videoboard project honoring their memories was a labor of love for our staff, coaches, student-athletes and parents, alumni and other members of the Triton Family. The baseball scoreboard was a gift from crosstown rival University of San Diego, which was looking to find a home for the lightly-used board they were replacing with the construction of a new stadium. It was a deal that we couldn’t refuse and the new structure has added a dynamic element to our player and fan experience.
Visitors to Triton Softball Stadium can’t help but notice the gleaming new bank of navy chair-backed seats filling up the bowl behind home plate. The 300-plus additions were made possible in large part by the donations of Triton alumni and families. Their presence not only creates spectator comfort, but will help in attracting future Tritons as well as top level softball events. They are yet another improvement to a venue whose part in the recent national success of Coach Patti Gerckens’ program cannot be understated.
With the close of those projects, we’re moving ahead full-force on two more ambitious fund-raising efforts—campaigns for a new clubhouse at Triton Ballpark and an athletic performance center on the northwest rim of Triton Track & Field Stadium. The former will be the next step in the much-needed enhancement of a venue that has long been first class inside the fences but seriously lacking on the periphery. The latter, when concluded will be a significant boost to all 23 of our intercollegiate teams by providing additional space for strength and conditioning. It will not only free up time at the heavily impacted RIMAC weight room, benefiting all students, not just student-athletes, but lead to a more manageable schedule for student-athletes, improving their competitive skills as well as academic and personal pursuits. As these two ventures move forward, it should be an exciting time for Triton Athletics—improving the experience for our current student-athletes and offering alumni athletes and friends great opportunities to give back.