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New and returning Colby College students will be greeted this week by the sight of three gleaming new varsity athletic fields, completing a new, 70-acre-plus outdoor competition center that is among the finest in the NCAA’s Division III. The new fields also represent the first complete phase of Colby’s planned new athletic complex and a commitment to excellence in all endeavors.

The new competition center is part of a comprehensive plan for Colby’s future that includes new and expanded academic programs and the creation of the Lunder Institute for American Art—all aimed at allowing students to stretch their capacities and achieve at the highest levels.

The three new, tiered fields will provide outstanding facilities for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and many other recreational uses. Their opening completes construction of Colby’s outdoor competition center, including the adjacent baseball and softball complex with all-weather surfaces and the Colby Alfond-Wales Tennis Courts, across Mayflower Hill Drive from the Harold Alfond Stadium. A new pitch for Colby’s championship rugby teams is also set to open this fall. Adjacent to Colby’s Perkins Arboretum, it features an NCAA-regulation playing surface and new goals and scoreboard.

The Colby men’s soccer team during the first official practices on the College’s new athletic fields Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017.

“As we continue to invest in our athletic program, we created this interconnected and thoughtfully designed championship outdoor competition center to provide Colby’s athletes with the best opportunity to reach a new level of excellence,” said Harold Alfond Director of Athletics Jake Olkkola. “The competition and practice experience is going to be stellar.”

In addition, the fields promise an improved spectator experience with a variety of seating options and trails connecting the fields and nearby areas for public gatherings and tailgating.

The Bill Alfond Field, a synthetic turf field for field hockey and lacrosse, a separate grass soccer field, and a smaller practice field are set to open for practice Aug. 31. Colby women’s soccer gets the first home game at the complex Sept. 10. The fields will be dedicated Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. prior to three games that day—women’s soccer, men’s soccer, and field hockey.

These fields will also serve as a resource for local, regional, and national camps, competitions, and training—one element of Colby’s joint effort with Waterville to attract more visitors to the city. Colby will continue to make these fields available to community teams when they are not in use by Colby players, as possible. Requests for use may be sent to athletics@colby.edu.

The Bill Alfond Field will be home to Colby’s 2017 NESCAC champion women’s lacrosse program. Coach Karen Henning was the 2017 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Pilgrim Region coach of the year.

Site work is underway nearby on Colby’s planned 350,000-square-foot complex. That complex, to house an indoor competition center with a 200-meter track, a multi-level fitness center, a basketball arena, and Maine’s only Olympic-sized pool, is slated to open in 2020.

With more than 80 percent of Colby students participating in organized athletics, and even more using the existing center for exercise and personal training, the new complex signals the College’s dedication to active, healthy lifestyles for all of its students and guarantees a winning experience for both competition and lifetime fitness.

For generations, Colby has been a partner and steward of community athletics in greater Waterville and around Maine. The new complex will allow Colby to invite even more teams and competitions to campus, from nearby and across New England, just as the new lighted turf baseball and softball complex has done. This activity should have a strong economic benefit for central Maine, estimated at $1 million annually.