Women's soccer, lacrosse programs feel grateful after new facility upgrades

The upgrades include top-notch practice fields for several ASU sport programs

Despite college athletics being put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASU's athletic department did not stop in its goal to update its athletic facilities over the summer.

The upgrades include several top-notch practice fields for women's soccer, women's lacrosse, football, band, as well as intramural sports.

"With a vast amount of intramurals, clubs and leagues at ASU, it became apparent that we needed additional space in Tempe," Julie Kipper, executive director of Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness said in the athletic department's press release. "It worked out to be the perfect design and set up for students and the athletes."

ASU women's soccer coach Graham Winkworth is very thankful for the diligent work the athletic department put in to ensure the upgrades would be ready for the Fall.

"It’s beautiful," Winkworth said. "We are all struggling to get through this challenging year, (but) the Sun Devil Athletic Department has still taken steps forward, which I think comes from the incredible leadership behind the very top with Ray Anderson and President Crow."

Winkworth, who assumed the role of head coach in 2016, joined the program because of the trust he had established with ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson, and has seen promises come true for the women's soccer team.

"With the addition of new sports at the time that I arrived (as head coach), there wasn’t necessarily the infrastructure for all of the new additions," Winkworth said. "But what got me excited when I was being recruited was the direction that Ray Anderson sold me on what the sports complex project was going to look like. It was one of the factors that wanted me to become a Sun Devil myself."

Similar to Coach Winkworth, women's head lacrosse coach Tim McCormack agrees the new playing surfaces make the practice field second to none.

"I think it's the best surface in the country. There is no question about that," McCormack said. "We have the best facilities and field crew that are taking care of it every single day; it's like going out and playing on a fairway. To play on natural grass that is as well kept as this ... it's been really exciting for us.

"We have more space now, so we have a bigger area to be able to do all of the things that we need to be able to do."

The renovations are met with a high level of enthusiasm not just for the coaches but players alike.

Senior soccer forward Olive Jones is glad the future of the women's soccer program will include having world-class facilities to practice and improve.

"It's a blessing," Jones said. "The field is pristine and perfect. It's just really nice to have such high quality training grounds to train on. We love (the women's) lacrosse (team) and we are all a family here, but it's nice to have our own field so that one field doesn't get torn up a lot."

For senior lacrosse attackman Kerri Clayton, the fields are a massive improvement from "the lawn" — the small field the team was restricted from playing on back when the program was beginning.

"It's incredible to see," Clayton said. "When I first got here, we didn't have a team yet, so we all redshirted, and we didn't have anything. (The fields) are really incredible when you see them, and it's so grand and big and we never needed anything more but just to be able to have Athletics put the money into doing these facilities for us. It's really nice to see."

With the addition of new renovations to supply the women's soccer and lacrosse programs, Winkworth feels very appreciative of the acknowledgment and support from the entire Sun Devil Athletic Department. 

"The fact that our Athletic Department cares so much for every sport and that one of my players is just as important to Ray as the quarterback of the football team or the point guard of the basketball team, that means the world to me and it means the world to our players as well," Winkworth said. "It’s that type of leadership that makes coaches want to coach here and players want to play here."

Reach the reporters at aklatsky@asu.edu and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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