Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ newest athletics practice facility — a $3.5 million state-of-the-art, air-supported sports dome — will bear the name of one of the institution’s longest serving trustees and Hobart soccer legend, Thomas B. Poole ’61, P’91, L.H.D. ’06.
After years of planning and months of construction, the Thomas B. Poole ’61 and Family Sports Dome opened its doors this spring. Poole and his wife Mary Jane Poole P’91, were instrumental in making the new facility a reality through a $1.5 million lead gift for the fundraising campaign. The official dedication and naming of the dome will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 during Homecoming and Family Weekend.
“We are profoundly grateful for the leadership and generosity of Tom and Mary Jane, whose lead gift brought this project to life, and for the many alums and friends who shared their vision,” says Vice President for Advancement Bob O’Connor P’22. “Together, they have enabled the Colleges to simultaneously improve practice conditions for Herons and Statesmen teams and expand the entire community’s access to sports and recreation.”
Located behind the Robert A. Bristol Field House, the Poole and Family Sports Dome shelters William C. Stiles ’43 Field, named in honor of former Director of Hobart Athletics and Hobart Hall of Famer Bill Stiles. Originally two side-by-side, full-length natural grass practice fields, the new, nearly 86,000-square-foot FieldTurf surface is lined for all of the Colleges’ field teams, including field hockey, football, lacrosse and soccer. The patio of the Poole and Family Sports Dome, located just outside the facility, also pays homage to Stiles legacy of contributions to HWS sports.
William Smith Athletics Director Deb Steward, Hobart Athletics Interim Director Brian Miller, and HWS Director of Recreation, Intramurals, and Fitness Russ Hess say they are grateful for the support of the Pooles and the project’s many benefactors, whose donations have ensured a more predictable schedule for varsity teams, intramurals, clubs and open recreation.
Since Bristol’s construction in 1989, the Colleges had relied on the field house to support teams during inclement weather. Before the dome opened, varsity teams practiced in the field house from late afternoon until well into the evening, forcing intramural contests to start late into the night.
“The Poole and Family Sports Dome provides a year-round, safe activity space for our students to participate in intramurals, open recreation, sports clubs and athletics,” says Steward. “The new facility also allows for a more consistent and reliable schedule for users in Bristol Field House, our athletic fields and the Sports Dome, providing a better quality of life for our students, coaches and athletic trainers.”
“The Thomas Poole and Family Sports Dome is an incredible facility that will benefit not only our varsity teams, but also the entire HWS student body,” says Miller. “I know our coaches and student-athletes absolutely rave about the ability to practice in the Dome, which will give us a competitive advantage to prepare free from the elements.”
Noting that the dome is also available to HWS club and intramural sports as well as other campus groups, Hess says that scheduling conflicts caused by weather are a thing of the past, as the Dome “takes pressure off the Field House’s main floor and opens up more opportunities for intramural and club practices and competitions.”
Meanwhile, he says, the turf field “is much more conducive for practicing, safer than the hard surface in the Field House, and teams will be able to start practicing earlier in the season. It’s fantastic.”
Additional funding was raised through an initiative to name the stadium at the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation after legendary Hobart Lacrosse Head Coach Dave Urick. Now known as Boswell Field at David J Urick Stadium, it is the home of the Colleges’ football and lacrosse teams.
For information on the dedication ceremony, contact Michelle Robbins at email@example.com