By Kaie Quigley & Pat Carbone – Co-Editor-In-Chief/Digital Sports Editor & 1851 Contributor
Over the summer, Lasell was busy renovating the gym floor in the Athletic Center and installing stadium lights on Grellier Field. These new looks for the athletic department debuted as the fall sports season got underway.
Director of Athletics Kristy Walter says these changes are being made to “improve the experience for the student-athletes.” According to Walter, the gymnasium floor’s age started to show, and the new lights give students and athletes more time to use Grellier Field. “We can get 200 more programmable hours with the lights on the field,” said Walter, discussing the advantages of the new stadium lights.
These stadium lights were not seen as a positive by everyone though. Some neighbors of the Lasell campus were very public with their anti-stadium light opinions. Walking around the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods, one could see “Stop Lasell’s Stadium Lights, 70-foot lights don’t belong in Auburndale” signs along the streets. To get the project approved by the city of Newton, Lasell needed to have these neighbors on their side.
“Their issue really is, it’s their home and they feel like they’re being disrupted by parking and sound,” said Walter explaining neighbors’ issue with the new stadium lights. Lasell needed to find a compromise with their neighbors if they wanted to see this plan through.
To get an “okay” from neighbors, Lasell had to agree to some terms and conditions. “We agreed to turn the lights off at 7 p.m. on Sundays, but we’re going to go till 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. We’re not going to use them in the summer…They wouldn’t be on at all in mid-December because everybody’s gone.” said Walter. The university also worked on creating a strict parking policy to help prevent any illegal parking on neighborhood streets.
Now that the lights are up and ready, Lasell athletes eagerly await to step onto a bright Grellier field and begin competing. “I’m really excited. I’ve never had lights, even at my high school field. So the thought of having a home game at Lasell with the lights actually makes me very happy,” said sophomore Lisa Ortiz, playing her first season of field hockey after losing her freshman year to COVID-19.
The field hockey team has yet to play under the new lights. However, Ortiz said they are looking forward to the more intense action out on the field and the lively crowd cheering her team on in the stands. “I think anytime there’s a night game under the lights, you just get in the zone; it feels more cinematic to me,” said Ortiz.
Over at the Athletic Center, Lasell was also busy installing the new gymnasium
floor. According to Walter, “dead-spots” were showing up around the floor, making it more difficult to play on. After multiple repairs, it was deemed time to remodel the entire floor. The Lasell women’s volleyball team played their first game on the new floor on September 23 in a 3-1 win against University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
The gym floor and stadium lights are not the only projects the Athletics Department planned to make. For upcoming projects, athletics plans to add rooms to the Athletic Center for recruiting and teams. They have also purchased strength and conditioning equipment for the dance studio, which will allow athletes to perform workouts in the space.
Walter also discussed a major project that would see huge changes to the program. “Long term, we really want to do a new athletic center,” she said. “We’d have to do a lot of fundraising for that so I don’t think it’d be immediate, [but] it’s on people’s radar. We’ve just kind of outgrown this space.”