Bill Alfond Field Keeps Colby Competitive

Women's lacrosse
Thanks to a $1.35-million gift in the form of a fund-raising challenge by William '72 and Joan Alfond, the synthetic turf Bill Alfond Field already is helping Colby remain competitive, both in athletic contests and in attracting applicants for admission. "From a weather standpoint alone it's been worth its weight in gold," said Director of Athletics Marcella Zalot.

Athletics have long been an important part of the Colby experience, but Colby athletes and coaches face special challenges in the Maine weather. Waning daylight and frozen, snow-covered, or muddy fields forced practices into a crowded field house, where practice times in February and March regularly ran from 4 to 10 p.m. Although NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) rules permit spring teams to practice as early as February 15, natural Colby fields often aren't usable until mid-April. As part of the Plan for Colby, the trustees identified a multi-purpose, synthetic turf athletic field as one of the strategic priorities of the College.

Located across the street from the Roberts Building, Bill Alfond Field can be plowed of snow, allowing spring teams to begin outdoor practices as soon as they are eligible. It also is equipped with bleachers, restrooms, a scoreboard, and lights, allowing evening practices on days when the sun sets early. The primary field for intercollegiate competition in field hockey and lacrosse, the Bill Alfond Field also serves as a practice field for football, soccer, baseball, softball, and track and field. Club and intramural sports and Waterville community sports organizations also may use it.

"In the first year we had the field, the field hockey team got to prepare for the playoffs on it, and the lacrosse teams were able to practice outside in February. Without it they wouldn't have been able to get outdoors until the second week of April," said Zalot. "We had so much rain last October that field hockey would have had to move to another site, but we actually were able to have home games."
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