‘We’re very fortunate’Deerfield Academy to dedicate new athletics complex

  • Deerfield Academy’s new state-of-the-art athletics complex features a field house with dividers, batting cages, and a tenth of a mile elevated track.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Deerfield Academy’s new state-of-the-art athletics complex.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Deerfield Academy’s new state-of-the-art athletics complex features a field house with dividers, batting cages, and a tenth of a mile elevated track.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Deerfield Academy’s new state-of-the-art athletics complex includes a new ice rink below the field house.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Deerfield Academy’s new state-of-the-art athletics complex with basketball/volleyball court. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/22/2018 7:11:48 PM

DEERFIELD – Deerfield Academy plans to host a dedication ceremony on Friday to celebrate the opening of its $68 million, state-of-the-art athletics complex at on Albany Road.

The new three-story facility, meshed with an existing building to provide 130,000 square feet of additional space, was constructed in a roughly 18-month project financed by private donations. Friday’s ceremony is set to begin at 2 p.m. with the naming of a longtime campus gymnasium after the Hale family, before moving to the David H. Koch Field House at 2:30 p.m. A soft opening was held Oct. 11.

Jessica A. Day, director of communications at Deerfield Academy, explained 2001 graduate Katie Guay, director of philanthropy at the USA Hockey Foundation and former Olympic ice hockey referee, and 1975 graduate Peter McLoughlin, former president of the Seattle Seahawks, will be keynote speakers.

Robertson Howe, in his third year the boarding and day school’s athletics director, said the facility’s 20,000-square-foot field house is named David Koch of Koch Industries Inc., an alumnus and current benefactor. He said the artificial turf, now crunchy when stepped on, will quickly get broken in.

“Every sport can play in here. We’ve had football practice in here, we’ve had field hockey in here. We’ve had soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball,” he said.

The field house also has an overhead track that spans one-tenth of a mile, and two batting cages that can descend from the ceiling. There is also a divider that can be lowered so multiple teams can be practiced at once. 

Across the hall is a multipurpose room, with portable basketball hoops stored in a closet, that houses volleyball and basketball courts.

“It’s a nice facility,” Howe said during a private tour last week.

The complex replaces the previous hockey rink, colloquially known as “the barn.” Howe explained that rink was torn down in March 2017, after the end of a hockey season. The rink inside the new complex is called the Class of 1993 Rink. Howe said most of it was paid for by a member of that graduating class, who wanted to donate money in honor of his classmates. Howe said the hockey season officially starts Nov. 12.

“One of the ideas here, too, is just to make this a building for all students, just so we built in some lounges, some place for the kids to study, to hang out — not just varsity athletes,” Howe said during the tour.

The complex also has two exercise/yoga studios, meeting rooms, a golf simulator room with 32 courses embedded into the sophisticated software, a virtual cycling room (with an app that can be downloaded to simulate dozens of riding experiences), a crew tank room in which athletes can sit dry and practice rowing with oars that dip into water tanks that feature different currents so athletes can work on their strength and technique, meeting rooms and an events room with a view to the hockey rink. The hockey team locker rooms resemble that of the National Hockey League.

“We’re very fortunate,” he said.

Deerfield Academy features 63 sports. Howe said all 650 students are required to participate in one activity per trimester. He said roughly 400 students each trimester choose sports.

Following Friday’s ceremonies, employees, the student body, and roughly 150 guests will be invited to stay for an architects symposium, demonstrations of new equipment, and a free skate in the hockey rink.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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