Mike Brown and his wife, Nancy, have literally helped build a new university with their generosity.
The University of La Verne breaks ground on Campus West, the new home of the Leopards baseball and softball teams, scheduled for completion by February.
University of La Verne student-athletes took a ceremonial step closer to playing on their brand new sports fields with the groundbreaking at Campus West, the university’s new athletic complex located a short distance from La Verne’s main campus.
To commemorate the start of construction, University of La Verne and City of La Verne officials gathered at the site in late June.
“It is real, it is happening and we are so excited,” La Verne President Dr. Devorah Lieberman said. “This is a piece of property that is not just a property that belongs to any one organization. This is an example of how an institution and a city can work together to be mutually beneficial.”
Campus West, which is located on Wheeler Avenue south of Arrow Highway will be the new home of a baseball field, a softball field and a multipurpose field for athletics. There are also plans to add a press box, stadium seating, parking lots, batting cages and lighting.
In accordance with the university’s 10-year Master Plan, the campus baseball field gave way to the Sara & Michael Abraham Campus Center, Vista La Verne residence hall, recreational space and student parking. The baseball team practiced and played games at alternate sites the past two seasons to accommodate construction, which is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2014 season for both the baseball and softball programs.
“For this project, as with sports competition, the ultimate goal is to define where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” University of La Verne baseball coach Scott Winterburn said. “We’ve come together as a team with this project and our team is one.”
The softball team has practiced and played games at Wheeler Park, just across Arrow Highway to the north from the Campus West site, since 1999. Former Olympian Julie Smith accepted the head coaching job six years ago anyway, knowing that this day would come.
“What kept me going was knowing that this dream would become a reality,” said Smith, who played for Team USA in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. “We understand that it is a gift, and our players will play for all of the players of the past.”
Campus West is a joint venture between the university and the City of La Verne, whose residents will have access to the fields in organized sports leagues and events.
“Since the beginning, the City of La Verne and Lordsburg College existed for one thing: to make each other better,” La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick said. “We are always looking for ways to make each other better. This is a way for us to be proactive in helping our youth, the next generation.”
It will also provide closure for La Verne student-athletes, some of whom were on hand for the ceremony, all in agreement that this step forward is also a big step up.
“These have been very long distinguished traditions and this is a sign of that commitment,” La Verne Provost Dr. Greg Dewey said. “These are truly transformational times.”