Venue upgrades improve athletic performance

Jordan Jacobo, Sports editor

On May 20, head baseball coach Scott Brosius stood on Roy Helser Field knocking ground balls at his infielders during practice.

The baseball team, which plays in the NCAA Division III Finals for the first time in its history today, benefited on the field from $350,000 in renovations for its facilities this season.

Brosius, a former New York Yankees third baseman who was named World Series MVP in 1998, declined to say whether or not he thinks his fame has helped the team gather fundraising efforts with greater ease.

“The people who support our baseball, and Linfield athletics in general, have done so for quite a while,” Brosius said. “We have many supporters who have always been generous in giving, and that’s why we have the facilities we do.”

The money, privately fundraised and donated in part by Brosius, went to the latest series of venue renovations that have transformed the allure of Linfield athletics in the past five years.

This year the installation of an artificial FieldTurf infield and covered batting cages allowed the baseball team to spend more time practicing on the field.

On-field practice, rather than time spent training in the fieldhouse, means players can get used to the fielding of live ground balls without space constraint in situational play,
Brosius said.

“Defensively, we’ve been able to do a lot more,” Brosius said. “There’s no question it’s been a huge benefit.”

Next on the upgrade wish list for the team: a new scoreboard and a batter’s eye, which is a visual aid behind center field that helps keep distractions at a minimum when batting.

In 2004, Linfield completed a $1.4 million upgrade to the Maxwell Field football stadium and the surrounding track and field facilities.

The field’s grass was replaced with synthetic turf, the track surface was torn up and replaced with a polyurethane, stadium lights were installed
and the press box and scoreboard were upgraded as part of the project.

“Without a doubt, it’s made us a much more effective team,” head football coach Joe Smith said. “We’re able to film our practices and hold our practices later. But the field is used much more by the student body, so it’s been very good to the school
as well.”

Smith said that many of the elite national football programs that Linfield competes against in the postseason have facilities that far exceed the Maxwell Field renovations.

He said the weight room is one of the facilities in need of the most improvement. There often isn’t enough room because it’s used by all sports and the student body.

The danger in lavishly upgrading is that some teams get left in the dark, but Smith said that athletic director Scott Carnahan is careful never to let that happen. He said the donations to the general athletic venue funds have also gone to upgrades in other sports, such as soccer, softball and lacrosse.

Smith said that Carnahan’s efforts have led to high quality athletic facilities across all sports, regardless of fanfare or popularity.

Carnahan said the key to building new facilities or improving existing ones is finding multiple uses.

For example, the Health, Human Performance and Athletics Complex is home to a variety of athletic events, social events, institutional gatherings and four academic majors.

The next major project for Carnahan is the building of a new HHPA fitness center. Currently, there is $1.8 million pledged for the $5.2 million construction project.

Because funding is not finalized, the plan has not been approved by the Board of Trustees. The building would be located between Lever Street and the football field, on the grassy area south of
the gym.

“When you’re fundraising for facilities, you want to look at how it will impact the entire campus,” Carnahan said. “It’s a question of
overall benefit.”



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