Corina Beimers— Staff Writer
The Dordt University soccer field, usually dark past 8 p.m., lit up on Aug. 11. Players, coaches, donors, and others from the community gathered for a lighting ceremony that gave power to the stadium lights for the first time.
For years, Dordt University has boasted one of the most pristine pitches within a 500-mile radius. In 2017, a grandstand was added. Since then, the facility has been missing one thing: lights. A year ago, the addition of lights wasn’t high on the team’s priority list, but this change became important after considering the difference it could make.
Previously, the setting of the sun dictated kickoff times for games. This meant that mid-week games took place in the afternoons, which resulted in missed classes for players of both home and away teams.
“The ramifications of adding lights was great from the student side,” said Alex Durbin, head coach of the women’s soccer team. “We want our student-athletes to be in class all day and be able to come out for the game afterwards.”
The nighttime possibility of games creates for a better in-game atmosphere for both players and fans. In the past, many potential fans used to work or participate in other activities during the soccer games. Now, family members and classmates can watch their student athletes compete.
“It was a very generic experience for our student athletes,” said Ross Douma, Dordt’s athletic director.
The lights add to the fans’ favorite aspect of the game: the atmosphere and sense of community.
On Sept. 3, the Dordt soccer teams received their first taste of a home game under the lights.
“The girls are excited to have that opportunity,” Durbin said. “They are blessed and thankful to the donors and people who are behind the scenes making these things happen.”
The women won the first Friday night game, defeating Graceland 3-0. The men lost to Graceland 1-6.
“The lights brought more people to the game from the community, “Hannah Glynn, team captain and Dordt senior, said. “It’s cool to see Dordt caring more about soccer.”
The stadium lights also enhance Dordt soccer’s recruiting capabilities and decrease injury risk. In the 2020 season, the programs tested flexing games to the evenings by playing across the street at Open Space Park Football Field. This meant playing on turf. Consequentially, running on turf only increases the odds of injury in a sport that already contains many ACL injuries.
For recruitment, the facilities a university offers plays a big role in the recruit’s college decision. Enabling one of the nicest fields in the Midwest for around-the-clock utilization can only boost Dordt’s recruiting capabilities.
“Now adding lights to the facility, we are well above anyone else in the GPAC,” Durbin said.
The Dordt soccer program will continue to grow as construction on the American State Bank Complex dome starts. Work for the new indoor turf begins this fall at the Heritage Village site. Although, most of the work will begin in the spring when the frost is out of the ground. The dome is scheduled to reach completion in the fall of 2022.
“We hope that [the dome] will help add to the culture here at Dordt not only in the way of providing future soccer players, but also fans who have a better knowledge and desire to go watch the sport,” Douma said.