Samford University dedicated its new track and soccer stadium Friday, April 22, hours before student-athletes christened it with Southern Conference track and field championship competition.
Athletics director Martin Newton, acknowledging that the university provides an excellent “broad-based education and athletic experience for all Samford students,” noted that athletics is sometimes called the “front porch to a university.”
“We are proud to have this front porch on Lakeshore Drive. It will contribute to helping Samford student-athletes compete at the highest level in the Southern Conference,” said Newton.
The complex, which includes a nine-lane track with a regulation soccer field inside the track, is located just across Lakeshore Drive from the campus.
Newton, who was named athletics director in March, added that Samford’s greatest asset is its people. “And the finest student athletes in the country are here at Samford,” he said.
Student-athletes Hillary Neal and Jeremy Towns assisted with the opening ceremonies. Neal, a member of the track and field team, expressed appreciation to the Samford board of trustees, administrators, donors and others who helped make the facility a reality. Towns, a football player and organizer of RANSOM student-athletes faith group, offered the dedication prayer.
Cutting a ribbon attached to a huge red and blue bow were Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, Newton, Student Government Association president Riley Westmoreland, head track and field coach Rod Tiffin, track and field student-athletes Jessica Van Ausdall and Kyle Kirby, head soccer coach Todd Yelton, soccer student-athlete Sarah Wilkinson and concepts and physical activity faculty coordinator Allison Jackson.
In welcoming the crowd to the opening ceremony, Dr. Westmoreland noted that such a facility could not be possible without the support of many people. The complex is an example of a “great thing” that was able to happen, he said.
The complex has a seating capacity of 1,200, with 360 chair-back seats. A 300-square-foot press box sits atop the grandstand. A 5,000-square-foot support building houses concessions, ticket booth, restrooms, storage and locker rooms.
The 9 a.m. opening ceremony was followed with a SoCon women’s heptathlon event at 10:30 a.m. The two days of men’s and women’s competition will conclude with an awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon. It is the first time for Samford to host the SoCon outdoor track and field championships.