New Playing Surfaces, Lights, and Scoreboard Welcome Additions to Ortmayer Stadium
That familiar adage “leopards never change their spots” is being patently ignored this year at the University of La Verne. Ortmayer Stadium, traditional home to the university’s football and track & field teams as well as decades of spring commencement ceremonies, has a new look made possible by an extensive refurbishment project.
Months of planning and construction have brought improvements and a fresh feel to the iconic campus facility. And the results are already being hailed as a landmark addition to La Verne, enhancing the university’s appearance and school spirit.
Arnett Field in Ortmayer Stadium has been converted from grass to a synthetic turf that provides a consistent playing surface throughout the year. Along with being where the football program practices and plays, it is the new home for the men’s and women’s soccer teams, all accomplished without creating concerns of overtaxing the facility.
The running track encircling the field has also been upgraded with a new artificial surface, giving the men’s and women’s track & field teams vastly improved conditions for practice and the ability to host home meets for the first time in many years.
An electronic scoreboard with video capabilities offers fans scoring, stats, images and messaging. And new competition-quality lights allow for greatly expanded night use of the stadium – not just for athletic competition but for numerous campus and local community events.
“The renovation of Ortmayer Stadium is the culmination of a four-year journey. The opportunity to build a facility to accommodate five sport programs is truly transformational,” said Athletic Director Julie Kline. “The facility also will serve as a lab for our Movement & Sports Science Department, and creates more space to provide more recreational and intramural opportunities for our students.”
The official grand re-opening came on Saturday, Sept. 15, leading into the football season opener against visiting Whitworth University. An overflow crowd watched the dedication ceremony, which featured a video honoring the late Roland Ortmayer, the university’s longtime football coach, professor and administrator. Several members of the Ortmayer family took part in the dedication. The event also included a tribute to La Verne alumnus, professor, administrator and athletic coach Dwight Hanawalt, who passed away in June.
The Leopards fell short in their efforts to add a victory over the visitors from Spokane, Wash, to the festivities. But that did not diminish head football coach Chris Krich’s enthusiasm concerning the new field and amenities, seeing them as an important step for both his program and the university.
“Our players are very excited to start a new tradition by playing under the lights. We have to make adjustments to playing a home game at night,” said Krich, “but I believe playing at night will make a tremendous impact and help build our fan base.”
The field’s first game competition took place September 2 when the women’s soccer team bested visiting Mills College 12-0. Junior Katie Careaga scored the opening goal as the Leopards exceeded their entire scoring output of the previous season in a single game.
“Playing on campus is a huge motivation for our players,” said first-year women’s soccer coach Antoinette Love. “The opportunity to play at Ortmayer Stadium – and under the lights – makes us feel more a part of the campus community. It also incorporates the philosophy of a quality student-athlete experience.”
Two days later, the men’s soccer team defeated Pacific University 3-1. For Crescencio Gonzalez, men’s soccer coach and assistant athletic director for facilities, the return home after a year of practicing and hosting games at an off-site facility was a welcome event.
“Coming back to campus and being able to play at Ortmayer Stadium is like a dream come true to our alumni and current players,” said Gonzales, in his 18th year with the men’s program and his 11th as head coach. “Already we have received several positive comments from several of our alums how great the environment is here playing in the stadium.”