Historical game day kicks off with field dedication

Saturday was a day of firsts for Alderson Broaddus University.

It was the Battlers’ first home football game on the new school stadium in 83 years. The Battlers won the first coin toss against Pace University at the start of the game, scored the first touchdown and won the first home game 31-28.

“No matter what the result is of the football game, we have won,” J.D. Long, the assistant athletic director and assistant professor of education at ABU, said.

It was a pivotal day in the history of ABU, not just because there was a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 50-yard line in celebration of the new stadium just before the big game, but also because the stadium meant much more than a football game to many of the individuals present.

“I’m honored to be a part of this,” West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said. “This just shows the possibility that West Virginia has. This is a perfect example. College campuses usually are a place where possibilities take place.

“This just shows what we have in West Virginia when you look beyond what’s right in front of you, when you look at the possibilities, and you go after it. There’s a lot of challenges. Sometimes there’s risks, but the rewards are even sweeter when you accomplish it.”

Tennant presented a West Virginia state flag to ABU President Dr. Richard Creehan for display at a campus building of his choice.

Jay Nussel, the master of ceremonies for the dedication and ribbon-cutting, said that Alderson Broaddus University, was a college “chewing in crisis” prior to all of the changes which have happened since Creehan assumed the helm of the school. Nussel said that the university now has recovering finances and a healthy enrollment since Creehan was hired.

Hundreds of alumni, students, parents and other guests filled the bleachers, the picnic area and even the grass around the stadium to watch the historical season opener. Creehan said that he would be cheering so hard for the Battlers that he will have lost his voice by the end of the day. Many of the school’s alums sported T-shirts that display “Alumni Proud” as they cheered from the stands.

“That, I think, depicts the transformation (of the university),” Creehan said. “There’s so much pride in what we’ve accomplished.”

Over the past few years, Alderson Broaddus University became home to four new residential halls, a new sports stadium, renovated buildings and an increased enrollment growing to historical numbers for the college. About 500 new students began classes this semester.

“We’ve been a long way waiting for this day,” the chariman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Ron Burbick, said. “It’s just an overall good feeling to see that we’ve been able to get the school this far, and we have a lot more plans ahead.”

Quoting former First Lady Hillary Clinton, Creehan said it took a village to make Saturday’s game possible. Creehan said that $30 million was invested in new construction and infrastructure improvements to the college, which included $1.5 million to build the stadium.

Contact Melissa Toothman by email at mtoothman@theintermountain.com.