Cover Story

Alumni Field officially opens

Homecoming 2015 celebrations marked by opening of new turf field
By: Melissa Lombard

Homecoming is always an exciting time of year. School spirit is palpable. You can find garnet and gold around every corner. And a community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, families, and friends come together to celebrate Mountie Pride. This year, the excitement was elevated by the official opening of Mount Allison’s turf field — now aptly named Alumni Field.

The field was transformed from grass to turf this past summer. The project was completely paid for by private donations from alumni and friends, led by a campaign cabinet of David Booth (’84), Paul Henry (’85), Peter Winters (’87), and Jeff Paikin (’84). In fact, the field opened one year to the day that the campaign began to take shape.

“It speaks to the deep connection past Mounties have to current Mounties and how much we loved our time as students of the university,” says Booth at the official opening. “It gives me great pleasure to be associated with the gift of this beautiful new turf field to the students of Mount Allison.”

The $1.5 million field campaign goal was officially reached in less than six months.

“We have done something truly incredible for this institution,” says Henry, while standing on the field at halftime of the Homecoming football game. “It’s a very proud day to be a Mountie.”

President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell says the historic day is the culmination of years of work and vision, from recruiting good people to creating a strategic plan for athletics and recreation. From that came a culture of success and a mantra of Mountie Pride.

“One of the things that sets Mount Allison apart is the support we receive from our alumni,” says University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell. “They are the best connected, most active, most generous in the country. We are truly grateful to them for all they do, and thank them for making this wonderful new facility possible. It is 100 per cent appropriate that this wonderful new facility be named Alumni Field.”

On the Friday before the field was opened, the annual Homecoming Golf Tournament was held at the Amherst Golf Course. The tournament attracted 76 golfers and raised $11,000 for Mount Allison Athletics and Recreation.up

The weekend was also jam-packed with athletics events, including “Friday Night Lights” men’s and women’s soccer vs. UdeM, which drew a crowd of varsity soccer alumni back to Sackville to watch from the Student Centre’s rooftop terrace. Both teams also played on Sunday against StFX. Women’s hockey kicked off its exhibition season on the Sunday vs. UdeM, both men’s and women’s basketball took to the court against Grenfell College from Newfoundland, and the club lacrosse team played Acadia.

“It was just an incredible weekend for Athletics and Recreation,” says Pierre Arsenault, director of athletics and recreation. “We were pleased and proud to open Alumni Field and also excited to see so many of our teams in action. The golf tournament was, as always, a great fund raiser for us and a pride builder.”

There are two major events each year for alumni — Homecoming in September and Reunion in May. Alumni Director Carolle de Ste-Croix says Homecoming is all about family and having that shared experience on campus.

At a morning celebration at the President’s home, Hammond House, alumnus Paul Henry expressed how happy and proud he and his wife Jennifer Ferguson (’85) are that two of their children are now living their own experiences and creating their own memories at Mount Allison.

“Becoming a parent alumni is an absolute gift from your child, allowing you the opportunity to reconnect to Mount A and to watch them flourish as we all once did.”

Homecoming is also about the relationship between the University and the town.

“People come back to Mount Allison, but they also come back to Sackville,” says de Ste-Croix. “So we want the weekend to reflect that entire experience.” She says that fall is the perfect time of year for Homecoming.

“There is this feeling of renewal in September. Campus feels the same, it smells the same, and the leaves are starting to change. It is just like when we were all students here during our first few weeks on campus.”

Cover photo caption: Front row (l-r): Nick Scott ('17); Ellie Henry ('16); Hannah Sholtz ('19); Jack Arsenault; Chris Reid ('18); Anthony Maddalena ('17); Liam Stewart ('18). Back row (l-r): Shawn Mesheau; Lynn Loewen ('82); Paul Henry ('85); Christy DeMont ('80); David Booth ('84); John Burzynski ('86); Robert Campbell; Pierre Arsenault participate in the official opening of Alumni Field.