Sweet Briar breaks ground on state-of-the-art synthetic, water-based turf field

Posted on April 26, 2022 by Dana Poleski

New athletic fields Rendering of the new turf field (left) and adjacent grass fields

Sweet Briar College is pleased to host a groundbreaking celebration for the construction of a synthetic, water-based turf field on Wednesday, April 27, at 4:30 p.m. The new Thayer Field is named in honor of Mildred “Bee” Newman Thayer ’61.

With the generous support from Sweet Briar alumnae and friends, the College has raised over $2.6 million for these state-of-the-art athletic facility improvements. “Today’s ceremony is a touchstone in Sweet Briar’s history and one that marks a new era for field sports at the College,” says Mary Pope Hutson ’83, Senior Vice President of alumnae relations, development and communications. “We are incredibly grateful to the alumnae, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends who helped us reach this moment and paved the way for our students’ continued success on the field. Thanks to their support, this is just the start of great things to come.”

In the first phase of this project, the former Babcock Field (now Thayer Field) is being converted to synthetic, water-based turf and will be used by the field hockey and lacrosse teams. In addition to the turf, a new LED field lighting system and scoreboard will be installed. 

The adjacent grass field — used by the soccer team — will be reoriented, resodded and also receive new LED lights and scoreboard. The upgrades to the grass field are generously funded by donors and the College’s Friends of Athletics.

More than 30 percent of Sweet Briar students participate in a field sport. With these improvements, the field hockey, lacrosse and soccer teams are excited by the speed of play on the turf field as well as the ability to be more flexible in game and practice times with the lights.

Upgrading athletic facilities not only enhances the experience of current students but also the ability to recruit student-athletes for all sports. “The investment in Thayer Field is evidence of the College’s support and enthusiasm for athletics,” observes Athletics Director Jodi Canfield.

Thayer Field is expected to be complete before the fall semester begins in August.
About Bee Thayer ’61

Mildred “Bee” Newman Thayer ’61 is a former member of the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors, the Alumnae Association and a member of the Fitness and Athletics Center Gifts Committee. In 2009, the original Thayer Field, located near Sweet Briar’s Upper Lake, was named in honor of Bee and her late  husband, Brad. Bee was not only a lead donor on the turf field project but has a long-standing history with Sweet Briar as a former player on the field hockey and tennis teams and an avid supporter of the athletics program.