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This summer, Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium got a brand new turf playing surface and more practice space behind the north end zone with the removal of bleachers, as well as new land­scaping next to the home tunnel. (Brad Monas­tiere | Courtesy)

A brand-new field awaited the Hillsdale football team when it returned to campus for training camp this summer. Along with the new turf at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium this year, the baseball team will have new dugouts, and the softball team will have improved pro­tective netting.

The improve­ments are the result of Hillsdale College’s com­mitment to revamping its ath­letic facil­ities. Replacing the 12-year-old turf at “Muddy” Waters Stadium was at the top of the list since it had reached the end of its life span, according to Director of Ath­letics Don Brubacher. 

“We were in a position where it had to be replaced. It didn’t meet cer­ti­fi­cation stan­dards by the end of last season,” he said. “We did go through a very extensive process researching lots and lots of dif­ferent com­panies that provide the turf.”

Brubacher said the turf industry — not the NCAA — sets the stan­dards for ade­quate playing sur­faces, stan­dards that are widely accepted among col­leges and uni­ver­sities.

Even­tually, the ath­letic department at Hillsdale settled on Maumee Bay Turf, a company based outside of Toledo, Ohio. 

Brubacher said the school had been tracking the state of the field and knew three years ago they would need to replace it during summer 2018.

The track around the outside of the field was not ren­o­vated, but Brubacher hinted it will happen soon. But the bleachers behind the north end zone of the field were removed to create more turf practice space for the team inside the track

In addition to the changes at the football field, the softball field received an in-ground irri­gation system for the first time. The college will also replace the field’s current backstop.

“The old backstop has dis­ap­peared, but the new backstop is not there yet,” Brubacher said. “We’re working on that project to replace the backstop.”

The old softball backstop inhibited the view of the new bleachers that were added more than two years ago.

“We had a sig­nif­icant number of foul balls that came back over the backstop and ended up on the track,” Brubacher said. “There’s some risk with that when people are actually com­peting on the track.” 

The baseball dugouts at Simpson Field also received special attention this summer. The new dugouts will be sig­nif­i­cantly more spa­cious for the Chargers baseball team.

“They are a little bit more than twice the size of the pre­vious dugouts,” Brubacher said.

Pre­vi­ously, players had to stand outside the dugout because of its small capacity, which pre­sented problems in terms of both comfort and safety. The new dugouts will allow the entire teams, both home and guest, to relax with more space.

Head baseball coach Eric Theisen thought it may help improve player morale. 

“It cer­tainly helps the in-game comfort level, as well as brings us up to par in the recruiting game.”

After suc­cessful seasons for baseball, softball, and football, the facility ren­o­va­tions will provide comfort for the players and fans who ded­icate so much to the teams who play there.