In just six months from the time Davis & Elkins College leaders decided to construct an AstroTurf field, members of the soccer teams are already playing on the new surface.
Nuttall Field was dedicated on Saturday, not as solely an athletic facility, but as an example of the teamwork and dedication that went into making it a reality.
"There's a whole lot more here than a field and money," D&E President Emeritus G.T. "Buck" Smith told the group gathered along the sidelines. "It's a human-interest story."
Davis &?Elkins College Trustee William W. ‘Bill’ Nuttall cuts the ribbon during a dedication ceremony Saturday for the new playing surface at the school’s facility, which will be named Nuttall Soccer Field. Also shown is Senator soccer players Ashley Winkelspecht, left, and Bastien Catrin. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Angie Pritt)
D&E Director of Athletics Ronnie Palmer told The Inter-Mountain the new "state-of-the-art" field has several advantages for the entire sports department, including the newly announced men's and women's lacrosse programs.
"This is a very exciting time for the college," Palmer said. "The field will really accommodate our needs. Now there won't be any issues with the weather and having to postpone practice and games."
Palmer said much gratitude should be expressed to the community for helping raise the funds needed for this project.
"As an institution, we are blessed with all the support from the community," Palmer said. "Our dream has become a reality. The college, the athletic department and the students are very appreciative."
The college has a rich tradition of success on the soccer field - including a pair of NAIA men's national championships. Officials broke ground for the new field in May.
This season, the Senators are playing in a new league - the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. D&E departed the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference July 1, when that conference permanently disbanded. D&E was a charter member of the WVIAC, joining in 1924.
This new era kicked off earlier this year when college administrators decided in February to proceed with a new Astroturf soccer/lacrosse field. Trustees Bill Nuttall and Hank Steinbrecher convened a committee of soccer alumni to raise the $600,000 necessary. The result is a field that was once muddy, now transformed into the highest quality synthetic surface with the D&E logo emblazoned proudly in the center.
Under their leadership, the Finish the Field Campaign Committee grew to include J. Adam Baumgardner, Erik D. Christie, Nicole "Cole" Dant, Craig "Rudy" Eppright, William D. Glenn, Nils A. Heinke, Douglas "Doug" A. Homer, Gary Horvath, Ray K. LaMora Jr., Kathleen "Kate" M. McArthur, William "Scotty" Smyth, Paul S. Stirrup, Charles A. Straw and Sean E. Walle.
For the past seven months, the group committed to meeting by conference call every Monday evening. Thanks to two large anonymous gifts received in May, the Committee had a strong foundation of support and has continued to raise the balance. As of this week, officials are within $68,000 of the final amount needed.
The grass field used in past seasons had a history of drainage problems that created an uneven and muddy surface. College leaders concluded that the only solution to correcting the problem would be to construct a new synthetic surface.
Smith explained that two donors were so touched by the story of the Committee's efforts that they generously offered large contributions - with the stipulation that they remain anonymous. However, Smith and his wife, Joni, were charged with deciding on a name for the field by basing the selection on the person who best symbolizes the teamwork and dedication behind the campaign.
"Nuttall Field is dedicated to the glory of God and in gratitude for the generous spirit of those who made it possible," Joni Smith read from the plaque as Nuttall walked across the field to join her.
"I'm humbled, honored and undeserving," Nuttall said before asking the Committee to stand beside him.
The efforts of the Committee were also recognized by current members of Senator soccer teams.
"We are very grateful for the hard work and dedication that went into this," said Dan Savory, a junior from Norfolk, England, and captain of the men' team. "We get a lot more out of our practice. Having a field like this shows we're really serious about soccer."
Alison Bogar, a senior from Ontario, Canada, and captain of the women's team, echoed those sentiments. "Having a field like this makes us proud and grateful. We're lucky for the opportunity given to us."