HILLSDALE, Mich. — The Hillsdale College Chargers are investing in new “state-of-the-art" facilities for their athletic teams including baseball, softball and track and field.
“The first phase of fundraising for our athletic facilities will be the relocation of the track and improvements to the baseball and softball facilities,” Hillsdale College Chief Administrative Officer Rich Pewe said.
According to head track and field coach Andy Towne, the developments are welcome. The current facility, he said, is "a wee bit old," and "being able to upgrade has been tremendous.
"The really nice thing with that facility is that it's a blank canvas out there,” Towne said.
The current track was built in 1999. College officials say it's outlasted expectations. The track will move to nearby Hayden Park on the college’s campus.
“We cannot expand the track to the modern shape of the tracks today and add a ninth lane because of the limited square footage we have at our current location. The outdoor track will become a very high-level facility at the Hayden Park location,” Director of Athletics Don Brubacher said.
One of the biggest changes will be to the baseball and softball complexes making them more weather friendly. There will be covers to keep people in attendance dry. Synthetic fields will replace regular grass to better combat volatile Michigan spring weather. Light installations will allow the D-II program to host baseball and softball games at night for the first time in their history.
“The primary motivation for that is we can play twilight doubleheaders and not miss class. Missed class time is something that we work in every way we can to avoid at Hillsdale because the academic program is so important to our student-athletes,” Brubacher said.
The college is still in its fundraising phase to make these improvements happen. According to officials, they are around one-third of the way to their $15 million goal.
“It kicks off a larger series of exciting improvements to expand and renovate our facilities for our very successful programs. Future additions and improvements will take place over the next several years,” Pewe said.
The goal of these marked improvements is to attract more talent to their outdoor athletic programs something the alumni and local residents follow closely.
“They’re quite excited about the improvements. We do have a lot of people here in Hillsdale that follow our sports teams. Yes, there is a significant amount of excitement about it. Probably a little more actual just encouragement to move quickly and of course we want to do that as much as we can,” Brubacher said.
Alumni aren’t the only people excited about the future.
“When the release happened [the athletes] were very excited. Some of the older kids were slightly depressed because they won’t get to see it as an athlete, but they were all very excited,” Towne said. “It’s going to allow us to recruit a high level and allow us to continue hosting high-level competitions like NCAA championships. This past weekend we had 1,500 athletes from all over the country. We’ll be able to continue to do meets like that.”
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