Averett Breaks Ground on Phase One of $6.5 Million Sports Complex

On April 24, 2014, a team of excited Averett student-athletes, Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks, Dr. Calvin Snowden and even the Averett Cougar helped break ground on Phase One of the university’s new Sports Complex: a new multi-sports field, complete with state-of-the-art synthetic turf and lighting. [Editor’s note: Daly Field was completed in time for the kickoff of Averett’s 2014 football season.]

“It’s a great day to be a Cougar,” Averett Director of Athletics Meg Stevens said to the enthusiastic crowd. “This is the day that will change us and move us to be the best of the best.”

“We work very hard to have new and exciting improvements in place every fall when our students return to campus,” President Franks said. “And in Athletics, this coming fall is going to be tremendous — it all will feel so new. New coaches. New field turf. New lights. A new entryway. New Nike uniforms. A new era for Cougar Athletics.”

Dr. Calvin Snowden ’94, Chairman of Averett’s Board of Trustees and a former NFL player, said: “Athletics is an important vehicle, a laboratory for life. It prepares you for the challenges of life. You get knocked down and you have to get up. You have to overcome obstacles, and in the classroom you can put into practice what you have learned on the fields of competition.

“This Sports Complex is part of our strategic plan and the overall master plan of the university. Facilities such as these will allow Averett to grow and provide additional summer sport camps and new partnerships with the City of Danville and the Pittsylvania County Recreation Program.

“Isn’t it interesting how Averett has become transformative to Danville? It is no longer ‘that place up on the hill.’ Now it’s an integral part of Danville’s progress,” said Dr. Snowden.

“I’m looking forward to our first night game,” said sophomore football player Bryan Finney. “Coming from high school to college, you lose that feeling on Friday nights. Night games are the best.”

Averett’s football and soccer coaches see many advantages with playing on turf and under the lights as well. “It will be one of the best facilities in our conference,” said Carly Pearce, Head Women’s Soccer Coach. “And we’ll be able to compete even better and recruit top student-athletes.”

“As part of our ‘One Team’ philosophy, I know I’m talking for my team and every student-athlete in the department when I’m saying that this will open up opportunities — opportunities to produce good results on the field and also opportunities to succeed in the classroom,” Averett women’s soccer player Emma Olsson said. “With a turf field and lights, we will be able to play and practice even during the dark hours of the day and in bad weather conditions. This will help us schedule practice around school instead of vice versa and it will make it easier for student-athletes to be just that — student-athletes.”

“I believe Averett University Athletics can be the best — best in the classroom, best on the field of play and most importantly provide the best experience for our student-athletes,” Meg Stevens said. “That’s what it’s really all about — experience. This facility will elevate the experience of our student-athletes, coaches and spectators.”

Stevens hopes the new complex will help attract larger crowds to cheer on the Cougars.

“We always call ourselves the hometown university,” she said. “We hope that people really want to come out not only to see a wonderful venue, but also to see wonderful sports that are being played in their own backyard.”

Dr. Franks says the local and regional community will be able to use the new facility, too. “I think it will be a source of pride not only from our university family but for the entire region,” she said.

At press time, Averett is within $450,000 of having its new Sports Complex completely funded. The stadium will ultimately include new stands, a new press box, a president’s suite, coach’s offices, concessions stands and restrooms.

The university was able to begin the project thanks to the generosity of several donors, including the E. Stuart James Grant Charitable Trust, the Philip N. Daly & Frances K. Daly Charitable Lead Unitrust, JT-Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, and former Trustee Richard Wright and his wife, Jean. English Construction has been selected to work
on the project.

Phase One of the new Sports Complex is the second construction project for the North Campus this spring. A new 5,000-square-foot indoor batting and pitching facility for the baseball and softball teams was recently completed. It was funded by an anonymous $200,000 donation.