Changing Pace

Article Written By:  Steven Ruffin

Aurora University (AU) recently had its grand opening of the Spartan Athletic Park (SAP), a new athletic facility. This is the first ever park made specifically for AU athletics. Spartan Athletic Park recently held women’s and men’s soccer games, and will soon host the AU football, softball, and lacrosse teams as well.

The AU Women’s soccer team was the first program to play on the new turf field at Spartan Athletic Park. When asked about her experience at the new facility, senior defender Beth Robbins said, “Getting to play at prime time under the lights has been the best thing about the new field and has made a positive difference in the way our team has been playing…Opening night was an unreal experience with the stands filled, plus a big conference win. I’m bummed to only experience it for one year, but it’s a great way to end my AU soccer career.”

For athletes at AU, playing at home under the lights has never been possible due to the legalities of having lights on Vago Field. SAP has changed the atmosphere for fans, and significantly increased the home-field advantage for athletes.

“Playing at the Spartan Athletic Park created a new atmosphere during our game. We had a lot more people come out because it could be at night, instead of in the afternoon when everyone usually has work or class. Having a lot of support really helped us play well. It’s such a cool feeling knowing that you’re one of the first athletes to ever compete there, and I think it has made our games more exciting not only for us, but for other students as well. The surface is much nicer than the other field and the building of SAP has made finding practice times easier because we don’t have to compete with other teams for field space.” said junior midfielder, Corynne McEachern in a statement about her experience at SAP.

Only a fraction of the entire park has been completed so far, but AU plans to “spend approximately $40 million over the next decade to provide the institution’s student-athletes with high quality practice and competition facilities,” according to the Spartan Athletics website. During the 2017-2018 school year, AU’s soccer, football, softball, and lacrosse teams will have the opportunity to utilize this beautiful facility.