By Kendall Gregory
The Sacred Heart University and Notre Dame Catholic High School athletic departments have renovated its multi-purpose field located behind the Frank and Marissa Martire Business & Communications Center.
Sacred Heart men’s and women’s soccer teams, as well as the women’s rugby team, will make this field their new home.
“To have a facility dedicated to soccer and rugby gives our student-athletes, coaches and alumni a point of pride,” said Chris O’Connor, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs. “They now have a home that is top notch and is up to the standard that we want to provide for our student-athletes.”
The idea for this field started because Sacred Heart needed a regulation size soccer field and Notre Dame needed a turf field. The process began five years ago, around the same time their athletic partnership started.
Notre Dame athletes will have full access to the field. The high school’s boy’s and girl’s soccer teams, boy’s and girl’s lacrosse teams and softball team will play there as well.
Rob Bleggi, Notre Dame’s Athletic Director, believes the field will benefit their athletic department. The turf field will allow fewer games to be cancelled in terms of poor field conditions due to rain.
“I’m most excited about having a field where you don’t have to worry about cancelling games and practices,” said Bleggi. “Now these teams have the ability to be on the field all the time and when you’re practicing and playing, you only get better.”
Sacred Heart athletes are excited to play on the new field as well. Sandra Marques, a junior on the women’s rugby team, is grateful for this opportunity. Women’s rugby is expected to play their matches on the field beginning in the spring.
“Since day one our coach emphasized that we work for everything and are entitled to nothing,” said Marques. “With regards of receiving this field, it is completely an honor.”
Sacred Heart has used Notre Dame’s facilities in the past, for an occasional basketball or lacrosse practice. The high school has also had access to Sacred Heart’s fields, including softball games at Pioneer Park and football games on Campus Field.
“We have a lot of good give and take. We really help each other when we need to,” said Bleggi.
Although there is no name for it yet, it is ready to be used for play. Notre Dame hopes to schedule a state tournament soccer game on the new field within the upcoming weeks.
The Sacred Heart soccer teams will finish their season playing on Campus Field. Since the new field is of regulation size, the team will need more time to practice and adjust to the field.
“It warms my heart knowing that rugby is a very well respected sport and that family, friends, fans, staff, faculty, student-athletes and spectators all see the hard work the teams and coaches put in,” said Marques.
Other Sacred Heart teams, including the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams and the baseball team, will be able to utilize the field for practice purposes.