$46 million field house caps Middlebury College’s athletic complex
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College recently dedicated its new field house, a spectacular, 110,000-square-foot facility off South Main Street that will host sporting events from the intramural level all the way through varsity contests and NCAA championships.
The $46 million Virtue Field House completes a state-of-the-art athletics complex that includes Pepin Gymnasium, Kenyon Arena, the Natatorium and the Squash Center, all under the umbrella of the Peterson Family Athletics Complex.
The field house is named after the Virtue family, which includes Middlebury Trustees J. Edward Virtue and Ted Virtue, who are both alumni of the institution.
At the Jan. 24 dedication ceremony, held at the center of the cavernous field house, President Ron Liebowitz noted that the Virtue Field House and the squash facility were the first building projects in the college’s modern history funded entirely by donors.
The field house replaces the inflatable dome, affectionately dubbed “The Bubble,” that was on the same spot and until 2013 housed an indoor track and squash courts. The college completed the new squash complex in 2013.
Virtue Field House includes a six-lane, 200-meter indoor track with nine lanes for sprinters. Inside the track is a turf field, christened McCormick Field, that encompasses 21,000 square feet and will be used for many field events.
The college lauded Virtue Field House and the squash center as great improvements over their predecessor. The Bubble had half the square footage of Virtue, no turf field, a shorter track with fewer lanes and fewer courts than the new squash center.
For the first time, Middlebury will be able to host collegiate track and field events. The inaugural contest will be the 2016 Women’s Division III New England Indoor Track and Field Championship.
The field house will become the winter home of the varsity track and field, lacrosse, softball, baseball, soccer, field hockey and football teams. At the club level, the men’s and women’s rugby, men’s and women’s ultimate Frisbee and men’s volleyball teams will make use of the turf. Virtue will also welcome the school’s 22 intramural programs as well as any students who’d like to walk or jog on the track.
Workers are still putting the finishing touches on the field house, which will be operational this month. It was designed by the Boston firm Sasaski Associates with an emphasis on energy conservation. Though much larger, it uses less energy than The Bubble, and the college plans to seek a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Building Council.
In addition to the actual athletic spaces, the college unveiled a massive, interactive touchscreen called the History Wall. Users can peruse more than 6,000 photos, clippings and ephemera, categorized by sport and decade, back to the 19th century.
“The media wall allows multiple people to engage with the wall and browse images, and go through the history of Middlebury firsthand,” said designer David Carafano in a promotional video.
SUSAN BALLARD, MIDDLEBURY College class of ’86, checks out the Middlebury Athletics History Wall in the new entrance to the college’s Peterson Family Athletics Complex. The interactive display of more than 6,000 photos provides users with a look at college athletics through the decades. — Independent photo/Trent Campbell
In addition to the field house dedication, Middlebury inducted five inaugural members into its new Athletics Hall of Fame. The first class includes a sampling of the best Middlebury athletes of the 20th century: Ray Fisher, class of 1910, for baseball, football and track; Phil Latreille, ’61, for hockey; John Bower, ’63, for Nordic skiing; Dorcas DenHartog Wonsavage, ’87, for Nordic skiing and cross country; and Heidi Howard Allen, ’99, for field hockey and lacrosse.
All but Fisher, who pitched 10 seasons in the major leagues and died in 1982, were on hand for the induction ceremony. Fisher was represented by his grandson.
At least 600 people got a peek at the new field house at the Jan. 24 open house. Among those was trustee Ted Virtue and his wife Dani Shaw Virtue, both graduates of the class of 1982 and both varsity athletes at Middlebury.
Ted Virtue spoke eloquently about his coaches Mickey Heinecken and Russ Reilly, both in attendance at the event.
“We have an incredibly talented and passionate coaching staff to teach our sports and teach those important life lessons to all of our athletes,” Virtue said. “We at Middlebury we play to win and we win a lot, and that carries on into other parts of life for every athlete who comes here.”
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