Wednesday, Aug. 23 marked a historic day for Yale women’s athletics, as crews began constructions on the Carol Roberts Field House. The facility, which will house the Yale softball and field hockey teams, is the first Eli athletics building dedicated solely to women’s sports teams.
The $6 million project will include locker rooms for the home and visiting teams as well as a training room, coaches’ offices and an observation deck for fans. The Roberts Field House is expected to be completed this coming spring, according to Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett.
“The Carol Roberts Field house is an exciting addition to our list of athletic facilities,” Beckett said. “The design of the building is tremendous as it will serve the needs of students, coaches, visiting teams and our alums and fans … The groundbreaking moment helped us all bring that image into better focus.”
Carol Roberts ’81, the building’s namesake, played pivotal roles in Ivy League Championships for both the field hockey and softball teams during her athletic career in New Haven. Since graduation, Roberts has remained active in Bulldog Athletics. Roberts serves as a member of the Field Hockey Association Board and earned the Yale Athletics George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award.
The Smilow Center, where the field hockey and softball teams’ locker rooms and training room are currently located, is a 10-minute walk from Johnson Field and DeWitt Field, the site of the teams’ practices and games. Since the Smilow Center accommodates several other teams, Roberts wanted to create a space closer to both the field hockey and softball fields that the teams could call their own.
“Although all of the field hockey seniors will never get to use it, and us softball seniors only for a few weeks of Ivy League play, this building will have a tremendous impact on both of our programs going forward,” pitcher Francesca Casalino ’18 said. “Everything will be in one place, next to our field, allowing us to translate our preparation into results during games. This will hugely impact the future of our program … [and] we will be setting up for many more Ivy League titles to come.”
Roberts jump-started funding for the field house by donating $3 million for the project in the spring. After she announced her donation, other alumni contributed as well. Funding for the training room was donated by Nancy Cahill ’79, who played softball and swam as a Bulldog. According to Beckett, all the money needed for the project has been raised.
“The fundraising is complete,” Beckett said. “We are so fortunate to have the amazing support and leadership of the lead donor for the facility, Carol Roberts. Carol loves Yale and believes in the mission of Yale and Yale Athletics to help to develop the next generation of leaders. Everyone is very pleased and excited about this project.”
Roberts, Beckett, softball head coach Jen Goodwin, field hockey head coach Pam Stuper and Handsome Dan all gathered at the site to watch construction begin last Wednesday. The beloved puppy was spotted dragging a white hard hat around the construction site.
Although the plans for the facility have been in motion for well over a year, construction on the site has been underway for just a week. Field hockey player Carol Middough ’18 said the construction has added excitement for the upcoming season as a reminder that current players are “part of a program that is so much bigger than ourselves.”
“I think the biggest impact of the field house is that it is all female,” Middough said. “As a female athlete it’s easy to often feel overshadowed by some of the male sports, so having the field house as our own I think is truly special.”
The Yale field hockey team will open its season this Saturday, taking on Sacred Heart at Johnson Field, directly across from the field house’s construction site.
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