Ross, Heeke, players speak to benefits of new soccer and lacrosse facility at grand opening


Athletics Director Dave Heeke cuts the ribbon on the new CMU Soccer and Lacrosse complex Thursday.

The club soccer team won’t need to traipse through The Cabin with their cleats to use its bathrooms anymore.

Thursday’s ribbon-cutting at the new Central Michigan Lacrosse, Soccer and Recreation Facility marks a new era for both club and varsity soccer and lacrosse.

The $8 million facility was completed in eight months and includes a turf field, stadium lights, locker rooms and a concessions area among other amenities.

“It was a huge project that got completed with the two words I really like about construction projects: On time and within budget,” said CMU President George Ross.

The soccer team played its first game on the new field, which has yet to be formally named, on Sunday in a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Illinois State.

“We’ve never been able to step away at halftime,” said junior midfielder Eliza Van de Kerkhove. “We were able to go into our team room, get together and come back out and continue to fight hard.”

Van de Kerhove said the turf, instead of the grass from Bennett Field, made for a quicker surface.

“The speed of the game is a lot faster,” she said. “(Bennett) field was more like a crown shape. This field’s a lot flatter, so it’s a lot faster.”

Kelsey Menzel, president of the women’s club soccer team, said there are numerous benefits to the facility, including giving referees a place to change instead of their cars.

“We’re going to be super happy when, after it rains, our field will still be recognizable,” she said. “The other teams will be really happy that they have their own bench area and that they don’t have to sit on the ground or almost fall down in the ditch.”

Menzel said the team used to walk across the street to The Cabin and ask permission if they could walk through with their cleats to use the bathroom.

The addition of stadium lights also allows practices and games to be scheduled past 8 p.m., like in the past.

Members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe were also in attendance Thursday. Athletics Director Dave Heeke said the addition of women’s lacrosse this year provides another opportunity to come together with the tribe.

“Lacrosse has its origins with Native Americans,” Heeke said. “Part of the excitement is the further opportunity to celebrate our incredible bond with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe by focusing on the rich history and heritage of the sport.”

Heeke said there will be programs with the team and the tribe.

“It gives us another opportunity to really celebrate that great honor that we have in representing our university and wearing that Chippewa name,” he said.

Lacrosse will begin fall ball with a scrimmage Sunday and start the regular season in early February. Members of the lacrosse team, in addition to soccer players and club sports athletes were at the grand opening.

“It’s really nice that we get to have such a nice facility and we’re really proud to have it,” said freshman midfielder Sydney Wright. “We’ve been bonding ever since we committed. We recently got to take a trip up to the U.P. staying in cabins and it was a really nice trip up to the lake with our team.”

The next regular season varsity game at the new complex will be Oct. 2 when the soccer team hosts Miami (Ohio) at 6 p.m.


About Taylor DesOrmeau

Taylor DesOrmeau is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in integrative public relations ...

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