Over the summer, Wittenberg made further progress towards the October completion deadline of indoor facility, known as The Steemer, as construction crews start to button up the facility. The Steemer currently has the turf field installed and is ready to be played on once the facility opens on Oct. 25 during a grand opening ceremony during homecoming weekend.
Protective netting, which surrounds the turf field, was in the process of being installed when The Torch took a tour of the facility on last Tuesday. In addition to the protective netting, the four batting cages had their netting installed, and are 50ft tall, and will allow both the baseball and softball teams to take batting practice without the pitchers worrying about being hit in the head by a ball ricocheting off the top of the netting according to Sr. Associate Athletic Director, Bret Billhardt.
The indoor 300m track will be installed later this week and will be comprised of two grades of track surface installed. One competition grade surface for the main track surface and another non-competition grade to fill in between the competition track and interior walls of The Steemer. The 300m track will be used for indoor track and field meets in the spring, allowing the Tigers to “compete in front of our home crowd,” according to Paris Hilliard head track coach. The Steemer will also be able to host throwing events which will allow the throwing events to be moved around the turf infield to minimize wear and tear on the surface. The eight lane, 100m straight on the north side of The Steemer also features a special lighting system which provides additional light on the finish line of the indoor track, allowing for cleaner setup of high-speed finish line camera systems such as FinishLynx, as timing crews will not have to setup their own lights around the finish line.
The Steemer also features “a solid concreate wall designed to withstand lacrosse players playing wall ball,” according to head lacrosse coach Jay Owen. “All this ties to recruiting. We just did our first group tour yesterday in there and it blew their doors in,” Owen said.
The Steemer will also feature a brand-new 5,400 sq-ft weight room located behind the current location of the racket ball courts and feature windows which into The Steemer.
The Steemer is not the only new facility which is available to teams, as several teams including Men’s Lacrosse moved in their year-around locker room which is “almost unheard of at the Division III level,” Owen, said. Teams seem to be excited about their new facilities as the men’s soccer team was “dumbfounded,” according to head coach Dwight Burgess as, “There’s locker-room space we didn’t have before, state of the art athletic training facilities, common spaces for students (athletes or otherwise) to gather, study and socialize. It’s our home.”
“The [Health, Wellness, and Athletics] project is a point of pride for the entire campus,” Burgess said. “Now we have access to arguably the best facility in the country. Student athletes want to be able to work on their respective sports to the best they can be, and now every student athlete can do that. In addition, non-student athletes will have the best workout facility in the country,” Owens said of the Health, Wellness and Athletics project.