The Aggie field hockey program has been working hard to regain its footing since the sport was re-introduced to UC Davis in 2009.
Earlier this year, the program unveiled plans for a new stadium, then followed that announcement with the naming of former Old Dominion University All-American field hockey standout Tiffany Huisman as the squad’s new coach.
As construction on the stadium is at hand — the new facility will put a brand-new perspective on a sport that almost didn’t return to campus.
A collaborative effort of private donors, player parents and the athletics department, the $3.2 million facility on LaRue Road across from Aggie Stadium is expected to be ready for the alumni game in August, and then host the 2014 season.
The water-based synthetic turf will help the Aggies get their footing in more ways than one.
“I think the surface is a huge factor,” said Huisman, who said major schools don’t want to play away games at UCD because, among other things, the football- and lacrosse-friendly turf of Aggie Stadium slows the game.
“(The new facility) will bring more teams to campus,” Huisman continues. “More home games means more community support.”
UCD athletic director Terry Tumey agrees that teams will want to come to Davis in the future.
“Undoubtedly, our fall weather and high quality field will make UC Davis much more attractive to teams coming across the country,” Tumey says. “It will also better prepared us for not only our conference opponents, but for our trips to the East Coast where most field hockey programs are located.”
The Aggies are coming off of their best season (8-12), finishing second in the West Division of the NorPac Conference under then-interim coach Austin Pile.
Wins against No. 6 Stanford and well-regarded Cal gave local fans a hint of what might be to come.
According to a press release from the school, UC Davis will be one of only three NCAA Division I field hockey programs on the West Coast to have a regulation playing surface.
Even if eastern powerhouses aren’t making UCD their primary reason for trips to California, knowing there’s a new facility (and the increasing level of competition from the Aggies) will make the LaRue Road stadium attractive for secondary stops.
“We’re grateful to everyone that has helped to make this field a reality,” Tumey says. “This is an exciting step in our program’s development and we couldn’t have done it without those that share our vision.”
Notes: Water cannons will prep the field for practices and games. There will be a seating area for fans, a scoreboard and bike parking. There will be sustainable landscaping around a fence enclosure.