Keystone unveils $3.4M field
Published: April 29, 2014
It wasn’t the traditional ribbon cutting that one might expect with a $3.4 million construction project nearing completion.
There were speeches yes, but no big scissors or even a ribbon.
But, as Keystone College President David Coppola went through his list of thank you’s Saturday morning, he noted there was one last group for which the whole complex was really about and that was the students.
No sooner did the word pop out of his mouth, then two dozen of them which eventually swelled to around 50 descended on the astro turf track complex and christened it with a flash mob.
The joy of college students was partly spring fever, but mostly jubilation over having an athletic field that some sports teams could finally call “home.”
Thanks to individual and business donations, financing from Keystone College and a state grant, Keystone’s soccer and field hockey teams no longer have to slog through the mud every time it rains.
“Half the time it was like a swamp,” soccer player Olivia Kashuba, a junior, said at the dedication ceremony. She was referring to their old practice spot, Ned Boehm Field, at the bottom of a hill.
Tunkhannock Area grad Shannon Robinson, who graduates next week but played field hockey for the Lady Giants - all away games with “home” designated as the Riverfront Sports complex in Scranton - could only look on with envy, and a little pride, that those who followed would truly have a home not far form their classrooms.
Over the past year, Keystone College cut down trees and leveled and graded a hillside off College Avenue to build a $3.4 million, 360-by-240-foot turf field with an eight-lane track, all with a birds-eye view of Harris Hall in the not-too-far distance.
The college’s soccer, field hockey and track teams will use the field as their new practice space, spokesman Fran Calpin said, and men’s and women’s lacrosse would begin with the next school year.
The project will “enhance Keystone’s value as a community partner,” serve students and support the college’s athletics programs, board of trustees Chairman Tim Speicher said at the dedication event Saturday morning.
A $150,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection helped pay for the drainage system to move water off the field, said Kevin Wilson, Keystone’s chief financial officer.
Dany O’Rourke, a senior recruited from Dublin, Ireland, to play on the men’s soccer team, said the team has had to use fields at Marywood University and the University of Scranton for home games.
“We had to have our senior day with a University of Scranton sign behind us,” he said, talking about the final home game of the season that honors graduating students.
The new field “shows we’re going in the right direction,” O’Rourke said.
Speicher noted that a year ago, “All that was visible here was an old farm house and the mountain that was scarcely populated with trees with the college’s maple syrup-making operation known as the ‘Sugar Shack.’
He added, “Today, we are gathered at the entrance to the Woodlands Campus.’
Former Keystone Athletic Director Michael Mould, who first arrived on the campus 53 years ago to start the school’s first soccer team and helped oversee much of the project over the past year, beamed with pride over what had been created in a span of a year and thanked the Clark Companies for its state-of-the-art athletic field construction.
President Coppola noted that on behalf of a lot of folks, “We have moved this mountain, and this space will move you in its professional, environmentally sensitive, and versatile complex.”
He noted that the track should be installed “as soon as we have a couple more warm days” and this summer a pavilion would be going up to anchor and connect Keystone’s walking trails, the sledding hill, the athletic field, the Sugar Shack and the apple orchards and beyond including four new beehives, which symbolized the best of a holistic liberal arts and sciences education and ecological stewardship all come together.
“This is a celebration of hope for the future, a reminder that we are a part of something larger than ourselves,” he said.
Times-Shamrock Writer Brendan Gibbons also contributed to this story.