The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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A New Era: MCLA Unveils Newly Renovated Shewcraft Field

MCLA Athletics
A wide view look at the newly renovated Ron Shewcraft Field. Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s Lacrosse, and Softball will call this field home for years to come

After 16 years since Ron Shewcraft Field at the Joe Zavattaro Athletic Complex was renovated, MCLA decided it was time to go out with the old and in with the new, as they recently finished the surface of the new playing field on September 15.

For MCLA’s Athletic Director, Laura Mooney, it was the right time to make the change to the playing field, citing how typically turf is replaced after ten years, and it was well past the time. She also wanted to make sure that would help “elevate” both current and future student-athletes’ positive experiences with athletics.

“It was really just time to replace the surface overall, and we wanted to do something that was going to pop,” she said. “The logo really adds to our branding and making sure people know who we are and where we are, and just continuing to further the pride in being a Trailblazer.”

The brand new Trailblazer logo located directly in the middle of the field. Previously, the field did not have an MCLA logo compared to other schools. (MCLA Athletics)

In addition to new turf, the field now includes a Trailblazer logo in the center, blue borders surrounding the field, and a new location for home and away team sidelines across the field. In addition to Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer, and Men’s Lacrosse, all of whom regularly use the field for practices and games before the project, Softball will now be regularly using the field, with the installation of a turf diamond. Mooney stated that with this installment, the hope is that the team will no longer have to travel to play “home” games, as the field was constantly in poor shape from the weather during the season in recent years

While the surface and key details are complete, Mooney added that there is still some work left to be done, including the addition of three covered benches, softball dugouts, a backstop, and some fencing. However, she said it will be taken care of once they are able to secure the parts from supplies.

Players from these respective teams are already excited and looking forward to creating new memories on the field. For Men’s Soccer Head Coach, Adam Hildabrand, the first day on the field had the feeling of “Christmas morning,” for himself and his players during the first day being back on their true home field. “Now that we’re back on Shewcraft Field, it adds an extra energy, and the guys are pumped,” he said. “The first day we practiced on it, guys were all running around, it was just really cool to see.”

A similar reaction rang true for the Women’s team as well, as midfielder Jayde Meribela ‘26 described the first experience of being on the field as “exhilarating” for her and her teammates, and looks forward to what is to come. “We watched [the project] all throughout the preseason, and we were just excited to watch and play on it,” she said. “Practicing on [the turf] is very exciting and fun, getting to watch it be done and then being able to play on it.”

A look at the brand new softball diamond located on Shewcraft Field. The team will now be playing home games here, as many of their games at their old field across the road were previously postponed or cancelled due to poor weather (MCLA Athletics)

The project itself began at the conclusion of last semester, with the hope of having it completed before the school year. However, Mother Nature had other plans, and it caused the project to continue during the beginning of this semester. As a result, it led to both the Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams playing their entire preseasons and beginning their regular seasons on the grass field. However, since the completion of the project, both teams have moved over to the turf, and while it is an adjustment period, according to Hildabrand, good days are well ahead for the Trailblazers.

“There are definitely some growing pains going from grass to turf, but it would be the same if we went from turf to grass because your body gets used to a certain movement and a certain impact on your joints,” he said. “I think [the change] absolutely affects psychologically…but I think after a couple of weeks, we’re gonna be okay.”

The change is noticeable, so much so that the Women’s Soccer team decided to stay put on the grass field even after completion since they were already used to the feel of the ground and wanted more time to make adjustments over to the turf. “We did get the chance to play on the turf for our first home opener, but we decided as a collective that it would be better for us to play on the grass field because we know the grass field and we didn’t have the chance to play on the turf for that long… but we plan on playing on the turf for our next home game,” said Meribela. 

While many unexpected changes have occurred thus far for some of the 2023 Fall student-athletes, it serve as minor setbacks for a major comeback. For Mooney, between this project, the recent completion of the MCLA Fitness Center in 2020, the addition of Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey programs this school year, and other plans, including turfing the baseball diamond at the complex, it will help to serve as an appeal for future Trailblazers going forward.

“I think facilities are incredibly important, and actually I think they are overlooked in a lot of ways,” she said. “Having facilities that are state-of-the-art, top-notch, clean, branded, just look like it’s a great experience for you to play a Friday night soccer game or whatever it might be, I think that goes a long way with the students, so I think that is key and that is why we enhance whatever we can enhance and brand whatever we can brand.” “Sometimes it’s just a little pain, but it really goes a long way to changing the face of your first impression,” says Mooney.

Additionally, the hope for this project is that not only future student-athletes choose MCLA to further their academic and athletic careers, but the community will rally together more to help support teams during their games. “I think anytime there is something new, people can rally behind it, and there is excitement,” said Mooney. “It’s going to take a whole, new element to how people view the game…it’s just going to be an overall better scenario for the fans, and I think we’re going to see a lot more students up there just wanting to see the field or excited to see the team on the field, so anytime you doing something new, there is always going to be potential for really positive things to come out of it.”

With all of the present and future plans for MCLA Athletics, it represents positive change going forward for all of the athletic programs and signals a new, competitive, and energetic era moving forward. 

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Owen Brown, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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