Falcons’ Alumni Field Already Growing Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

When Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella turned his cornfield into a baseball diamond in the movie, Field Of Dreams, he attracted dead big-league ballplayers, as well as his deceased father, all of whom were given another chance at playing the game they loved. The quote, “If you build it, he will come,” hauntingly whispered to Kevin Costner’s character, has morphed into the often-used phrase, “If you build it, they will come.”

In fact, James Earl Jones’ character, Terence Mann, encouraged Kinsella to keep the ball diamond when he quipped, “People will come, Ray.” Today, that diamond, housed in Dubuque County, Iowa, continues to attract tourists seeking to relive their childhoods and have a game of catch with their kids.

Fanshawe Falcons facilities and events officer Rob Hannivan (left) and manager of athletics Nathan McFadden. Photo: Chris Montanini/The Londoner.

The shiny, new Alumni Field softball diamond at Fanshawe College rests closer to high-rise condominiums than it does to 14-foot corn stalks. But already, the Falcons athletic department has found its own field of dreams, now that the $210,000 facility has attracted the 2019 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) softball championship, slated for October 18-19.

And according to Nathan McFadden, Fanshawe’s manager of athletics and newly-appointed OCAA president, the facility will help the Falcons’ softball program attract players who will help them compete each year for a provincial championship.

“Having a premier softball diamond on campus is a huge step for our softball program, and further increases our profile and brand within the community,” McFadden said. “Having facilities that are best in class is a large factor in student athlete recruitment, and yet another strong message to recruits about how special it is to play here and how well they will be treated at Fanshawe.”

Ed. Note: Read our previously-published story on McFadden and the Falcons here.

Construction of the complex began in June 2018, and contractors are putting finishing touches on the facility this summer, but the diamond has already opened for play as London’s only regulation-sized softball diamond. Dimensions are 210 feet down the lines and 225 feet to centre field. It features an irrigated grass outfield, groomed clay infield, fully-enclosed fenced outfield with fence windbreaks, a grass berm plus 21-foot team benches with dugout shades.

When it officially opens this September for the Falcons’ 2019 home opener, the complex will also feature a scoreboard, foul poles, flag poles, bullpens and spectator seating.

While the diamond is now home to the Falcons, McFadden said he expected numerous community groups, including City of London parks and recreation, London Lightning minor fastball, minor baseball up to U13 age group, Special Olympics Ontario – Southwestern Ontario and others to use the field.

Scoreboard and diamond advertising opportunities are now up for grabs, and field rental is $40 per hour.

According to McFadden, the new complex “allows both Fanshawe and the City of London to host big events along with providing more opportunities for community groups.”

Photo: Falcons Athletics.

The Falcons finished third at the 2018 OCAA tournament, and welcome back MVP Samantha Fuller of Ingersoll, and reigning OCAA rookie of the year Nichole Erb of Monkton, Ont.

The Falcons and Western Mustangs will play their annual pre-season doubleheader at Alumni field in early September. Western, whose home field is Stronach Park – just a long fly ball from Alumni Field – is a perennial powerhouse on the national women’s softball scene. Last October, the Mustangs went to their seventh consecutive national final, winning their fifth Canadian Collegiate Softball Association (CCSA) championship. They captured four straight CCSA titles from 2011 to 2014, and captured silver in 2015 and 2016.

Also last October, the Mustangs won their eighth consecutive Ontario title and 10th title overall with a 1-0 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks at the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastball Association championships. Laurier will host the 2019 CCSA championship this October.

Mustangs head coach Pete Lemon sees the potential of Western building its own on-campus softball diamond as invaluable to the program, but said, “There is no funding for that at present.” He said a Mustangs diamond “would make us much more visible to the campus community, as well as enable us to eliminate the numerous conflicts we now experience, as well as the obvious inconvenience of transporting our student athletes and our gear back and forth to Stronach Park.

2018 Ontario champion Western Mustangs

“Further, it could attract not only future provincial and national university ball tournaments to London, but also, as the best diamond in the city enable us to also host youth sport tournaments and clinics,” Lemon added, “(but) for this to happen a significant donor or donors would need to assist us.”

If you build it, they will come. But as time has proven, it can be tougher to secure funding for such a project than it is to toss a perfect game.

The new Fanshawe diamond is a welcomed addition to the campus and the community. Now it’s time for Western to step up to the plate for its athletes.

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Jeffrey Reed has been a member of the London sports media since 1980, and is publisher and editor of LondonOntarioSports.com and LondonOntarioGolf.com. Contact Jeffrey at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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