Cal Poly head football coach Tim Walsh felt a chill shoot down his spine as he watched players’ reactions when they walked onto their brand-new practice facility Friday morning.
“It’s instant energy,” Walsh said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Doerr Family Field. “They walked on the field and said, ‘Whoa.’ And we wanted to have that affect on them. We’re excited.”
Construction on the 140-yard synthetic-turf practice field, complete with soccer goals, football goalposts and a scoreboard, began in July 2017 and cost $4.8 million. Much of the money for the field came from anchor donors Richard Doerr and his wife, Kit, who conducted the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon alongside Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and athletic director Don Oberhelman.
“This will improve the student athlete experience for over 550 student athletes,” Armstrong said.
Richard Doerr is a member of the Cal Poly Foundation Board of Directors and played football for the Mustangs from 1964-66.
“I am fortunate enough to be able to do something that I have been considering for a long time,” Richard Doerr said. “This is a big one for us.”
The field was a hit with the players.
“It was like running on clouds,” Cal Poly fullback Joe Protheroe said of running on the soft synthetic surface.
The field is a far cry both in distance and quality from the hard rubber surface of the upper practice fields of the Cal Poly Sports Complex where the football team had practiced for the past eight seasons.
Protheroe and Walsh agreed that the location of the new field near the locker rooms in Mott Gym is a game-changer.
“Location isn’t every thing, but it’s pretty close to everything,” Walsh said. “The training room, the locker room and the training facility are now all within 100 yards of each other instead of a mile away.”
Though most of the construction is finished, there are still finishing touches to be made, such as additional Cal Poly branding, filming towers and more equipment, all of which will be added before the fall sports season begins.