The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out numerous activities during the spring and summer, but Husson University in Bangor took advantage of the lull.
The school usually offers a number of summer sports camps for kids, but all were canceled. Husson used the time to upgrade several of its idle athletics facilities.
“If there was a silver lining to all of this, it gave us a lot of time to take care of pretty significant facilities projects,” Husson athletic director Frank Pergolizzi said.
Pergolizzi said Husson invested nearly a million dollars to perform previously budgeted renovations to its soccer and lacrosse field, gymnasium floor and swimming pool.
“If we had the camps, it would have made it much more difficult to do the projects that we did,” he said.
Headlining the improvements was the installation of a new FieldTurf surface for the John P. Boucher Field, where the Eagles play soccer and lacrosse. The facility was built in 2001 and was converted to a FieldTurf surface in 2007.
Pergolizzi said the cost was approximately $800,000.
The basketball floor was resurfaced and the pool was renovated, including changing the thermostat, replacing the tiles on the deck and adding new lights in the pool. Each project cost $30,000-$40,000.
Two other minor improvements included new padding on the softball backstop and the upgrading the women’s cross country and track locker room.
Pergolizzi said a number of tests were done on the previous FieldTurf surface to test its resiliency, including its softness and the length of its fibers, and it was determined that it had to be replaced.
First-year men’s soccer head coach Dennis Mullins said the new turf is fantastic.
“It’s like a pillow compared to what we used to have,” Mullins said.
“The old turf had a lot of grooves. You couldn’t warm up without rolling your ankle,” said junior Shannon Dowd of Hubbardston, Massachusetts.
“It’s nice to know the ball can [hug] the sideline without rolling out of bounds now,” Waterville junior Mackenzie St. Pierre observed.
Carmel junior Matija Mamula of Carmel admits being accident prone and said the new surface will help.
“Now I know I won’t fall on my face as much as I used to,” she said.
Women’s basketball coach Kissy Walker is excited about the new surface on the basketball court in Newman Gym.
“The court had been getting pretty slippery. It’s got stick to it now,” Walker said.
She said she is lucky to have a supportive administration that implemented these renovations during a time with the COVID-19 pandemic when other schools weren’t able to make improvements.
Pergolizzi said the renovations, particularly to the soccer field and basketball court, create a safer environment for the student-athletes.
He said it also will help in Husson’s recruitment of student-athletes.
“Kids are very conscious of what facilities are like,” Pergolizzi said.