Sweet Briar College to break ground on new state-of-the-art turf field

Posted on August 25, 2021 by Abby May

Sweet Briar College is investing in a state-of-the-art turf field, which will replace the field located behind Babcock Hall. The new field will become the home for Sweet Briar field hockey and lacrosse and dramatically update the student and spectator experience for field sports.

In addition to installing a synthetic, water-based turf field, the project will include the addition of a scoreboard, a state-of-the-art LED field lighting system and improved access for athletes and spectators. Further, the adjacent natural grass soccer field will be reoriented to align with the turf field.

More than 30 percent of Sweet Briar students today participate in athletics and the new field will elevate Sweet Briar’s athletic facilities, making the College more competitive with peer institutions. The water-based turf is the ideal surface for field hockey and will enable the Sweet Briar field hockey team to play and practice on campus, something they haven’t been able to do for several years. 

“The past few years have highlighted the eagerness to grow Sweet Briar field hockey,” says player Ingrid Kalwitz Blanco ’23. “Being equipped with a water turf will allow us to become a more competitive and winning team. I am grateful and thrilled for this advancement in our program. The team and our coaches deserve it.”

Coach Hannah Lott is grateful for Sweet Briar’s commitment to its athletes. The College has committed to being excellent, not just the standard,” she says. “The water turf project is a great way to start our next century of hockey!”

Upgrading our athletic facilities will enhance Sweet Briar’s ability to recruit student athletes for all sports because the quality of athletic facilities figures prominently into a student’s college choice. “The investment in this field is evidence of the College’s support and enthusiasm for athletics,” observes Athletics Director Jodi Canfield. “We know that capital projects in the athletics department can help with recruiting and retention, not only of student athletes but also other students as well.”

The addition of new lighting will enable the College to host and play games at night, enhancing the atmosphere of all athletic contests at Sweet Briar and positively impacting student life. Because the new turf field will be more durable than the grass field, Vixen Athletics will be able to offer club programs in ultimate frisbee, flag football and other sports. Throughout the year, including the summer, the College will also be able to bring outside users to campus and host events like high school playoff games, camps and clinics. 

Sweet Briar’s partner in this project is CHA Consulting, Inc., a national leader in the design of synthetic turf fields. CHA has designed and constructed more than 300 synthetic turf fields over the past 25 years, with a focus on the latest technology and athlete safety.

The project will cost about $2.6 million and will be funded primarily by private gifts to the College, including a small number of lead donors as well as alumnae who are devoted to Sweet Briar athletics. Fundraising for the project to date totals $1.7 million in gifts and pledges and the College has also committed $600,000. To complete the project, Sweet Briar will need to raise approximately $300,000 in further funding.