Five Varsity teams. One stadium.
Only 24 hours in a day, and that’s just not enough to accommodate every team’s needs.
The limited field times and practice spaces are ongoing issues at Marist College. If you have never experienced Tenney Stadium at 5 a.m., consider yourself lucky. There are teams on the field before the sun rises, before the birds start chirping and before the entire campus wakes up.
Waking up at the crack of dawn to stroll onto a frosted Leonidoff field, with the moon and stars as the only source of light — the harsh reality of some of Marist’s Division I programs.
“In regards to figuring out time slots, the coaches work really well together trying to figure that all out,” said Men’s Soccer Head Coach Matt Viggiano. “It’s seniority in a way and respect to figure out when times work for different sports.”
Prior to each season, all of the head coaches convene to discuss practice and game time slots. For the fall, football, as well as men’s and women’s soccer receive priority as they are in season. Similarly, in the spring, men’s and women’s lacrosse receive priority for their season. However, both seasons are home to all five varsity sports as there is no legitimate “off-season.”
The spring results in more field conflicts as men’s and women’s soccer work around football and men’s and women’s lacrosse schedules. “Two times a week we’re on the grass while [football is] on the turf in the same practice slot; we kind of work around them a little bit, but again it is what it is,” Viggiano said.
On the other hand, Women’s Soccer Head Coach Leigh Howard was given the short end of the stick. She has only been at Marist for a few months and received the earliest time slot Marist Athletics has to offer.
“I think that in any program, you look to develop a rhythm and consistency that will allow for progress to be made at a faster rate. We have worked hard as a staff to create that consistency and work with the times provided to our team, knowing that the priority remains with the programs in season,” Howard said.
The constant change of seasons and sports being played calls for new lines being painted on the field multiple times a week and goals being pushed on and off the field. This is not only a tedious process for coaches and athletes, but the field maintenance workers pride themselves on maintaining the turf to suit each sports needs.
“Painting the field lines is the most annoying part because it’s a particular way that we do it, so that all the yard lines match up evenly,” said Grounds Crew employee Eric Taylor. “Working with the Grounds Department on campus keeps us really busy especially because we always have to set up for a team, and then right after that team is finished, we have to immediately break down because another team has to get on the field.”
Although having sport specific fields would call for more ground to tend to, the concern of repainting lines and extra work would be eliminated.
“We have a field, they plow it, we have the ability to train everyday and starting January, we’re outside. We try not to focus on the lines as long as we have somewhere to go and play,” said Viggiano. “Is it ideal? Probably not, but is it manageable? Sure.”
Leonidoff Field is one of 173 multi-purpose stadiums in the United States. The men’s soccer team is one of just seven collegiate programs in the United States that shares its field with a football team, according to Viggiano. One major concern of his is the safety of his players when the football goal posts are up during soccer games.
“In a game against Manhattan the ball went off the goal post and came back onto the field, hit my goalie in the head and he couldn’t play. He had a mild concussion,” said Viggiano.
The main priority of any coach is the safety of his or her players and the concern of a player being injured by another sports equipment is a result of the lone field Marist has. Although teams have to overcome adversity and deal with what they have, Leonidoff Field receives the majority of the beating.
The sole stadium at Marist College is not only wearied by five varsity level sports, but it is also used by intramural sports, club sports and occasionally the school band.
“I believe club sports that require a field to practice such as, soccer, frisbee, rugby, lacrosse, baseball, etc., would all benefit from a separate field than intramural sports,” said Men’s Club Soccer Captain Carlo Taglioretti. “There would be more space to practice, less conflicting schedules, and opportunities for club sports to have adequate time and space to have games.”
For hours on end, Tenney Stadium is occupied by athletes, students, faculty and spectators. Having one stadium for a plethora of teams and activities is not ideal.
“I think it’s every program’s ideal situation to have a field to call their own, or to be able to at least be sport-specific,” said Coach Howard. “It’s not often at this level that so many programs share one playing surface, so yes we would benefit and so would the surface itself. However, the latest replacement of the turf this past summer has definitely made the surface better for our sport.”
Every team and club will have its list of complaints, but the lack of availability and field space offered by Tenney Stadium is a particular grievance that affects almost all coaches and athletes. If an athlete wants to get extra work in or a team wants to have an additional training session, the lack of field space and time almost always hinders their ability to do so.
“Sharing the stadium with other varsity sports in my opinion takes away the value for it being your individual sport’s home field,” junior football player Peter Delatour said. “I think it would be cool to have our own space and area where we can set up our field and equipment and make the place our personal home where players could feel much more comfortable.”
Athletic Director Tim Murray did not reply to Center Field’s request for comment on the issue of conflicting field times.
For a college that has 21 Division I programs, the lack of availability and restraint on practice times are problems seen across the board. Although only five sports are played on Leonidoff Field, other teams such as swimming and diving, water polo, basketball and volleyball all share their home with other sports as well. The lack of available space, hours in a day and the sheer number of athletes and sports make it difficult to please everyone. However, an additional turf field would allow for coaches and players to not just “work with what ya got” as Viggiano repeatedly said. It would allow for more opportunities for teams to get extra work and not have to practice at early or late hours of the day.
Considering that the renewal of the turf at Tenney Stadium was 10 years overdue, Marist athletes unfortunately shouldn’t count on an additional turf field any time soon.