Daniel Ketchelos — Staff Writer
Dordt University athletic students left their mark on the new American State Bank (ASB) Sports Complex dome. Student-athletes on men’s and women’s soccer, softball, and baseball teams were asked to help complete the assembly on the inflatable dome.
Assembly of the dome began on Nov. 14, finished on Nov. 21, and it was inflated on Nov. 23. Some students put in up to 20 hours of work throughout the construction.
“It wasn’t required for all athletes, but for the baseball guys we were expected to be out there,” Charlie Hennessey, a junior pitcher for the baseball team, said. “There was no hour limit [to work], but it was expected that if you aren’t in class or have anything else you gotta be out there [working].”
Having student athletes help in the assembly of the dome also helped raise funds for their programs.
“Yeadon is the dome manufacturer, and in the contract, they originally were going to provide day laborers, but they also said they would take volunteer labor,” Carrie Krohn, Director of ASB Complex, said. “So, some of the coaches said, ‘Well, this is a great fundraiser for our program,’ and on the biggest day they had about 100 student-athletes out there, and that day it was cold and windy with some students working 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.”
The process for assembling the dome included rolling out tarps and patching them together with plates and cables.
“Our job was to get the 80,000-pound tarps, roll them out, pull them apart, plate them, then get them tucked into the concrete. Then we ran the cables across so that when they inflated it, it was ready to go,” said Chaz Gothard, a junior left-handed pitcher for the baseball team. “With the wind, cold, and all the snow it was quite a challenge for everybody out there.”
The inflatable dome is comprised of strong tarp-like material and held up by support cables and pressurized air. Without help from Dordt athletes, the dome might not have been assembled on time.
“Some of the texts from Yeadon said that they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the students. They really stepped up and helped a lot so we’re thankful for them,” Krohn said.
Despite the hard work and many hours, athletes found enjoyment in the assembly process and in helping to support their programs.
“I think it was awesome because we made a lot of money for the program, and I don’t think there will ever be another opportunity like this,” Hennessey said. “It definitely sucked, but it was nice to be out there with your guys and there was still fun to be had.”
Athletic coaches encouraged students to help with the assembly not just because it needed to be done, but for the legacy that they will leave within the dome.
“I think it’s really cool for our athletes to go and have some sweat equity in it,” Nathan Bacon, Assistant Director of the ASB Sports Complex and Head Baseball Coach, said. “All our programs talk about what type of legacy you’re going to leave, and it’s going to be cool for these athletes when they come back and to say, ‘I had played a role in helping put this together.’”
The ASB dome features useful technology to maintain inflation. The dome is regulated by gauges that can be electronically controlled, which is crucial to maintaining inflation when the air pressure changes.
“Eventually, we’ll have all those controls on our phones, and since I live in Orange City, I can remotely look at it and say, ‘Oh, we need to turn this [pressure] up,’” Krohn said. “For example, if there’s a weather event coming up, like a snowstorm, you have to pay attention because the snow can’t sit next to the dome since it can collapse it.”
The ASB Sports Complex is the second-largest in the state of Iowa, only surpassed by the University of Iowa’s football complex. The ASB complex spans 470 feet long, 250 feet wide, and 75 feet tall. The complex is 118,000 square feet and is large enough to house regulation-size football and soccer fields, host two 9v9 soccer fields, or two college-sized softball fields. In the 9,000 square foot headhouse, there is room for 60 to sit at tables and chairs.
“It’s an exciting thing for the city and for Dordt University to have a facility of this magnitude in the size of town we live in,” Bacon said. “I’m excited to see how the Lord uses it to bring people here, and we hope is that people will come in that facility and that it will have eternal impact.”