A field of their own

A+field+of+their+own

Emily Ochsner

The St. Louis Field's lack of lights prevents large audience turn outs for soccer games.

Many Chaminade students have not had the opportunity to attend their own men’s or women’s soccer games. It is not that they do not want to, but they are limited because they are in class at the times of the games. Just two home games into the season, men’s game attendance has averaged 64 audience members, while the women’s team has averaged a low 51.

The student body misses out on an exciting game of soccer, while the teams do not have a full audience to cheer or encourage them. The problem is that the St. Louis Field, where the home games are held, has no lights present, making late games out of the question.

Permission to use this field, the only one available on campus must be obtained before any scheduling of games. Chaminade soccer games can only be reserved at convenient times in compliance with St. Louis Field events. The upcoming six home games for both teams all rest on either Monday or Wednesdays before 1 pm. Of course this is when most students have class.

“There’s no ability for games to be held after the normal school day,” said Chaminande’s head men’s soccer coach Jason Higgins. “Even if there were lights my guess is that the St. Louis athletic program would take priority.”

Higgins, beginning his second year coaching men’s soccer at Chaminade, enters with a background of coaching at many schools across the country, including Southern Methodist University. Higgins was an assistant coach there when this team won its #1 ranking in the country in 2006. He has experienced a variety of support and audience turnouts throughout his coaching career. The audience attendance at Chaminade is significantly lower in comparison with the previous schools he has coached at.

“Game support is fairly quite low, due to the fact that students are in class.” He said. “I’ve been at big schools with so much as 4,000 people in the stands, to a couple hundred.”

He agrees that the addition of lights would not only be beneficial to the team as a whole, but would also help gain community and a “home” field environment for the athletes and students at Chaminade.

This does not seem as possible as one may think. A factor accompanying this issue is fundraising. The addition of even used lights on the St. Louis Field would cost the athletic department more than $300,000, Higgins said.

“Having an actual home-field atmosphere would be huge and give us home-court advantage,” said Higgins with urgency. The St. Louis banners plastered and strung proudly down at the soccer field takes away from Chaminade school spirit, and “it just really doesn’t feel like ours,” Higgins admits.

There is a lack of support for games, yet it cannot just be blamed on the absence of lights. Higgins said that “… we could probably overall do a better job of marketing the games as well to the general student population … but still the timing of the games is really the biggest obstacle.” Marketing and advertising games for Chaminade soccer is a concern as well. Hardly any banners, announcements or rallies are initiated to let students know about soccer games, and the players and staff for the soccer team feel its effect.

Higgins suggested a new place for competition, the Waipio sports complex. “That would allow us to have more night games and reach out to the local community … a lot of the youth soccer organizations train out at Waipio soccer complex,” Higgins said. While this idea has been brought up to the athletics department at Chaminade before, it takes more than just one activist, initiative and innovative thinking. Finding a way around the scheduling of a van for transportation or school bus for those students wishing to attend the games must be conquered. Higgins knows it all boils down to cost.

“It’s not a liability issue so much as it is money,” he said. “We need to take into account transportation, rental of facility…but I think it could be done.” Perhaps training and performance at Waipio is a better option.

“I really haven’t done the numbers but I can’t imagine it would take a lot of money to offset what we get charged here. If we could really get the local community out there we could even sell tickets…and that pays for the rental fee at Waipio.”

With Chaminade school spirit and pride, fundraising events and opportunities should be driven in order to bring in revenue so that hopefully Chaminade men’s and women’s soccer could have their own field of competition, whether it happens to be at Waipio sports complex or a place elsewhere. Nevertheless the student body is needed to come out and support.