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Squads find homes, await new fields

The women’s soccer team will hold practices this semester at Lutheran High School on Fruit Street, just north of Foothill Boulevard. Practices are held Monday through Thursday afternoons. Head coach Wendy Zwissler said the Lutheran High field is a great place to practice. / photo by Candice Salazar

Grace Casale
Staff Writer

Bulldozed baseball, soccer and football fields will eventually give way to the spanking new residence hall and a parking lot.

In about a year-and-a half, the future Campus West site, an area off of Wheeler Avenue and Arrow Highway, will host new home fields.

Meanwhile the University’s displaced athletic teams have had to make do with temporary practice sites off-campus.

The baseball team will practice at Damien High School this spring, located on the southwest corner of Bonita Avenue and Damien Avenue.

The women’s soccer team has begun practicing at La Verne Lutheran High School, located on Fruit Street north of Foothill Boulevard, and men’s soccer is using the same field.

“We want to get them to their new (fields) on West Campus soon and it will be better,” said Chip West, senior director of central services and capital planning. “We are excited to move forward in that project for the new west athletic campus.”

During this makeshift period, the University has made an agreement to upgrade the fields at Damien in exchange for allowing the teams to practice there.

Plans for upgrading athletic fields had been in the works since 2007.

When the idea for a new residence hall formed a few years later, plans to move the teams off-campus in order to use Ben Hines Field as the location for the project brought an early start to its construction West said.

The University owns 50 acres south of Arrow Highway off of Wheeler Avenue, which is designated to become the new Campus West.

The University also plans to construct batting cages and pitching mounds for the baseball team to practice on-campus in addition to their use of Damien until the Campus West facilities are built.

“We have a place to practice and it looks like we may have places to tie us over till then,” head baseball coach Scott Winterburn said. “But I hope the new facility comes sooner than planned.”

The baseball team is still unsure where its games will be held, but two current possibilities are Mt. San Antonio College and the Pomona-Pitzer Colleges.

Neither location has been confirmed yet.

The University facilities department has been working closely with the athletics department and after this men’s and women’s soccer season off-campus they will be back on-campus by next fall.

Renovations to Ortmayer Stadium are scheduled to begin in November.

These renovations include the installation of a new track and artificial turf, an improvement for the men’s and women’s track and field teams that currently cannot host home meets on-campus.

The football field will also be expanded to allow both soccer teams to play on the new turf, a common trait of many other universities’ facilities.

With the completion of the field, five La Verne teams will be in the same place: football, men’s and women’s soccer as well as men’s and women’s track and field.

“A lot will happen in the next year and it’s a really exciting time,” West said. “There are lots of dynamic projects that will make a big impact on the students on campus.

“All progress takes time but over the coming years there are really exciting projects that will impact the campus and students and the way people view our campus and it will be transforming,” he said.

Associate Vice President of Facility and Technology Services Clive Houston-Brown had wonderful things to say about the new facility plans.

“We look forward to bringing our student athletes these new sport facilities,” Houston-Brown said. “Although it will be one to two years of pain and problems, the end result will benefit the sports teams and the future generations who come to play here.”

Grace Casale can be reached at grace.casale@laverne.edu.

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