New athletics complex nears completion

Tim Laurent, Sports Writer

Construction began in January for a new state-of-the-art athletics facility on the FMU campus. The Gerald R. Griffin Complex is scheduled for completion in December.

The $11.3 million athletics complex will feature a baseball stadium, a softball stadium and a soccer field. The complex will also include a separate building just for coach offices.

Highlighting the new facility will be a lake to support research and natural sciences at FMU. It will also come complete with walking trails surrounding the lake and going through the woods.

The Athletics Department at FMU has had top-notch leaders throughout its history. Director of Athletics and Coordinator of Physical Education Program Murray Hartzler is responsible for executing many duties regarding each sport. Hartzler and other standouts will be recognized by naming portions of the new complex in their honor.

The entire complex will be dubbed the Gerald R. Griffin Complex, and other high profile names will accompany it. Hartzler will be recognized with the soccer field being named in his honor. Hartzler Field will include 400 seats and an enclosed press box.

Before being named Director of Athletics, Hartzler coached men’s and women’s soccer at FMU.

Junior midfield soccer player Megan Ogiltree said that Hartzler is very experienced with soccer.

“Murray Hartzler works so hard and does so much for every athletic team at FMU. Many things wouldn’t be possible without him,” Ogiltree said. “He has been a part of FMU soccer for such a long time and knows so much about the game.”

The new complex will also include a plaza named after Athletic Trainer Marion “Spyder” Webb. Webb Plaza will be near the center of the complex and is sure to be a hub of activity.

Webb graduated from FMU in 1978 and has been the head athletic trainer for all athletic squads at FMU for 35 years.

Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Marketing Michael Hawkins will be acknowledged with the Hawkins Press Box. After Hawkins graduated from FMU in 1985, he served as sports information director and news writer within the University’s Office of Communication Services for 21 years until he accepted his current role in the Athletics Department in 2006.

With a completion date set for December, the complex will not be ready for the 2011 soccer campaign. It will be ready for the 2012 baseball and softball seasons.

Cormell Field, where the Patriot baseball team has excelled in the past, will be moved into the new complex and become known as Cormell Field at Sparrow Stadium. The new stadium will hold over 2,000 fans.

Sophomore infield baseball player Michael Wilson said that he is excited about the new baseball stadium.

“If we ever get lucky enough to get that many fans there, it will be a great atmosphere to play in,” Wilson said. “It’s always great to play in front of a lot of people. It’s as if it gives us an extra boost of energy, especially during critical points of the game. . . . It’s going to be very exciting the first time we step out on that brand new infield.”

Sophomore infield softball player Sara Broderick said that the new athletics complex will benefit the Athletics Department.

“I have been hearing about the new field since before I even decided to attend FMU,” Broderick said. “I think it will be a great addition for the athletic program. . . . I think the new field will allow us to have even better practices and create an even greater environment.”

Excitement continues to grow around campus for three of FMU’s 12 sports programs’ new, high-quality home.