The stands were filled with students, parents, alumni and other members of the La Verne community to commemorate the grand opening of the Campus West athletics facility.
Located on Wheeler Avenue, the new baseball and softball fields at the facility finally made their debut Tuesday.
“It took 11 years, nine council members, two University of La Verne presidents, two mayors, two master plans, three extensions and countless meetings,” La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick said. “And today, the dream has become a reality with the opening of Campus West.”
President Devorah Lieberman, Vice President for Advancement Myra Garcia, Athletic Director Julie Kline, Board of Trustees Chairman Luis Faura, former Athletic Director Jimmy Paschal and Kendrick all spoke at the event.
“This is an important day to the entire La Verne community,” Garcia said.
The establishment of these fields, which will also be open to the community, was recognized as a benefit to both the University and the city.
“I know that these players are dying to get out here and start playing,” Lieberman said.
With excitement, baseball and softball players expressed their eagerness to play on their new home turf.
“Our team is really close so it’s nice to finally come together, play here and do our own thing,” freshman softball first baseman Alexis Schiff said.
“It’s our new home, we just got to get used to it,” sophomore baseball outfielder Mariano Padilla said.
The event also made a tribute to previous baseball coaches Ben Hines and Owen Wright as they attended the ceremony.
Hines guided the baseball team to its first national title in 1972, was named the NAIA coach of the year in 1977.
He was a batting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers for eight seasons and earned a World Series ring with the Dodgers in 1988.
Wright was honored as a Division III National Baseball Coach of the Year and won more than 600 games.
As the ceremony came to a close, Lieberman threw the first pitch in honor of the softball team, and Faura threw the first pitch for baseball.
“(I’m looking forward to) getting that first W,” junior baseball pitcher Javi Iniguez said.
Mascots Leo and Lea also supported the teams as they posed for photos and cheered. Student-led tours of the facility were also given.
“(I’m looking forward to) rivalries and the memories that will come with the new field,” freshman outfielder Diego Cortes said.
The first games at the field are yet to be announced.
“There’s no place like home plate,” President Lieberman said.
Hannah Burton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.