New softball field turf celebrated

April 10, 2015

Three charitable organizations and a long-time donor teamed up to celebrate new artificial turf installed recently on Turnbull Field in the Trusler Sports Complex at Emporia State University.

The first-pitch ceremony was held Friday, April 10, before the Hornet softball games against Fort Hays State. Representatives of the Bill and Aloha Preston Family Trust, the Trusler Foundation and the Emil Babinger Charitable Trust  — major contributors to the project — have been invited to take part in a first-pitch ceremony. 

“We’re exceptionally grateful that these charitable organizations as well as Steve and Bobbi Sauder believe in the university and our athletic programs and are willing to invest in our athletic programs now and into the future,” said Kent Weiser, Emporia State’s executive director of intercollegiate athletics. 

“We wanted to make it an event,” Weiser said. “We wanted to celebrate this because it will have a long-lasting impact on our softball program and, in the summer, for girls’ traveling softball program.”

Since Trusler Sports Complex opened in 1992, artificial turf has been added on Glennen Field, which is used for Hornet baseball. Two new scoreboards have been purchased, a clubhouse and hitting facility have been built and, recently, a ticket booth made of the same materials as the clubhouse was added.

The softball turf is yet another addition to an already beautiful Trusler Sports Complex.

“The new turf spans the entire infield from dugout to dugout, from backstop to the back of the infield and then it stretches through the warning tracks,” said Shane Shivley, senior associate athletic director and vice president of development for the Emporia State University Foundation, which assisted the charitable groups in making arrangements for the gifts.

“It just really keeps it as one of the finest facilities in the MIAA and in the Midwest,” Weiser said of the new turf. “The Trusler Complex is a facility that we’re proud of. It just is a gem.”

In-kind and monetary gifts have come from a broad base of supporters, substantially paring down the university’s original share of the $180,000 project cost.

The City of Emporia provided equipment and workers to excavate and haul away approximately one foot of dirt across the entire project area. Employees from Emporia State’s physical plant also worked on the project, saving on construction costs, Weiser said. ATG Sports of Andover installed the RamTurf field.

“All of the improvements to the Trusler Sports Complex show exactly what can happen with collaboration,” said Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president of Emporia State University. “We are so grateful to the City of Emporia and these donors for helping us reach the next level.”

Major support also came from Steve and Bobbi Sauder. Steve serves as champion of athletics for Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University.

“As a campaign champion, Steve helps in so many ways,” said Shivley. “This is another example of a project in which he was instrumental in building support.”

Softball team members and staff, who have been responsible for maintaining the dirt field, also encouraged others to join in the project.

“We sent letters to parents, grandparents and friends, alumni,” Weiser said. “We’ve had great support from them.”

The turf improvements not only provides a consistent playing field and the ability to play games after inclement weather, it also increases time and energy for the Hornet Softball Team, who is responsible for game-day maintenance and preparation of the field for competition.

“The players are excited to focus on playing the game,” said Julie LeMaire, head coach of the Lady Hornets. “They can show up to the field and have those things done.”

Because the artificial turf will not require purchasing chalk, drying agents and clay, the university athletics program expects to save thousands of dollars annually.

About Now & Forever

Launched in February 2013, Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University is a five- to seven-year effort with a working goal of $45 million. It is already the most successful fund-raising initiative in university history, with financial commitments now exceeding $34.5 million.

The campaign supports student scholarships, academic departments and initiatives that advance Emporia State’s mission to recruit students, teach and retain them, encourage them to graduate with lower levels of student debt, and ultimately put them on a path to a solid career.

For more information about Now & Forever giving opportunities, contact DenaSue Potestio, Emporia State University Foundation president/CEO,, 620-341-5440.