Campus facilities update: track, softball field updates, William Rolland Stadium to be re-turfed

Marcel Hurtubise, Reporter

On March 14, 2023, California Lutheran University held a Faculty and Staff Town Hall at the Lundring Events Center, which included an announcement about the campus plan that was voted on and approved by the Board of Regents. Part of the plan was to set the design phase for the practice and competition track, completion of phase one of the softball stadium and re-turfing the William Rolland Stadium.

Track to enter design phase

As a first step toward completing a training area for the track and field team, a practice and competition track has entered the design phase. Head Cross Country & Track and Field Coach Brett Halvaks said that, in his years as a student-athlete and coach at Cal Lutheran, he has heard talk about the construction of a track for the team, but this is the furthest step that the school has taken.

“Myself and the coaching staff and the whole team is really excited about that we’re at this point in the process now ‘cause we’ve never, to my knowledge at least, we’ve never been this far in the process before,” Halvaks said. “I’m glad to see that it’s finally moving in that direction.”

Currently, the track and field athletes drive to Moorpark High School to train and practice. 

“I think we’re seeing the importance of having it, not just for our team and for recruiting, but also just for the whole university,” Halvaks said. “You can have classes at it, other teams can train on it and use it as well. It’s such a multi-purpose space.”

Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning & Operations Ryan Van Ommeren said that they have looked for a donor for many years.

“We’ve done a fair amount of work over the years trying to put together a package for a donor, but that really hasn’t gone very far, so the university said ‘let’s take one more step in planning,’” Van Ommeren said. “Let’s just stop waiting for money to come in, so that we’re one step further along in the process.”

The design phase, Van Ommeren said, is putting together all of the specific details of what the track will have, like surface material and the first drafts of engineer drawings. He said that whether or not the track will be able to have meets held there is still dependent on the direction the construction goes, as they still have to look into the specifications that the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference needs for competition.

“We’ll build an alliance with an architect, track designer, track design professional,” Van Ommeren said. “We’ll look for firms that have a network of contractors that can build that… and get some really solid construction estimates, so we really know what we’re looking at.”

Softball stadium to begin construction

The first phase of construction on the softball stadium begins with the creation of a more formal dugout for players as soon as the softball season ends this May.

“It’s a big deal for us because especially this season with all this rain, our dugouts are dirt, so the place on our field that takes all the water is the dugout,” Head Softball Coach Debby Day said. “Even though our field looks good, we can’t go in the dugouts at all…The rain comes through, the heat comes through.”

In a previous Echo article, Day said that the softball field was built in 2008 and has not received an update since then and that the upgrades have the potential to attract new recruits.

Day said that there will also be a team room coming with the dugouts to allow players to watch film and store equipment. She also said that the second phase will include the stadium for fans to watch the games in, which will be a much larger project.

“Being in a top-rate facility is exciting for players when they walk in every day and I think there’s just so many people working here to make sure it is a top-rate facility,” Day said.

Van Ommeren said that the situation with the softball field was similar to the track where they could not find a donor.

“We know that we need a stadium, we know that we need dugouts, but looking for a donor to pick that stuff up…years go by, no donor,” Van Ommeren said.

Van Ommeren said that both the dugouts and the track will help the school look better to recruits, as well as improve the overall feel of the athletic facilities.

William Rolland Stadium re-turfing approved

The re-turfing of William Rolland Stadium is a smaller-scale project than the dugouts and track that is also taking place.

“That is exactly 11 years old and it’s sort of shelf-life is supposed to be 10 years,” Van Ommeren said. “So we’re really at the very very end. So, fortunately, administration said ‘hey, let’s just get this done.’”

Van Ommeren said they are looking at demonstrations from different competing vendors of turf, and that the choice should be made relatively soon. 

“The administration is very aware of athletics on campus and what it means to Cal Lutheran, so this is definitely a demonstration of that commitment,” Van Ommeren said.