Column: View from the Cone

Zane Clodfelter

A major point of athletics deals with adapting to change and making adjustments. Whether it’s changing a game plan or type of offense, athletes are always are on their toes—ready for whatever change or complication comes their way.

USI women’s soccer has dealt with a tough Great Lakes Valley Conference schedule, currently sitting at 4-3-1 in the league. The GLVC opponents haven’t been the toughest challenge to Krissy Engelbrecht’s Eagles though; that title undoubtedly goes to Mother Nature.

So far this season, two of the five scheduled conference games at Strassweg Field have been moved due to inclement weather bombarding the Evansville-metro area. USI had a match in late September against Missouri S&T, which was moved to the Goebel Soccer Complex, and this past weekend had similar circumstances when the match against Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) was moved to Evansville North High School, 10 miles away from campus.

Last year, we reported that USI hoped to replace the natural grass surface on the field with artificial turf in the near future. The money allotted would come from a small piece of the $50 million campaign announced last year titled, “Elevating Excellence.” Estimated costs for the field transformation are said to be around $1 million.

“I think it can help more than just the soccer program,” said USI Athletic Director Jon Mark Hall last April. “Its gives us more space.”

Others at the university were optimistic that the job would get done.

The university has to follow through. It has to get the job done.

With the obvious absence of football on this campus, soccer is a vital sport for USI athletics and its fans. It’s an outdoor sport, and a sport that attracts a lot of students.

It’s not fair to the student athletes that they can’t play in familiar surroundings at Strassweg, instead, weather forces games to move far from campus because the amount of rain on the natural grass surface. Situations like this make it difficult for those without cars to attend the games, alienating some fans who had a general interest in the sport.

It’s also a disadvantage to USI. Instead of focusing on the match and opponent at hand, they have to worry about whether or not they will be able to play, or where the match will be held.

USI needs to make it a priority to improve athletic facilities, and it starts with replacing the natural grass at Strassweg. I give a lot of credit to Engelbrecht and her team for battling the elements, while still having solid overall record of 6-3-1, winning both games that had to be moved because of bad weather. The Eagles haven’t let the adverse situations bother them, instead they continue to win.  Now it’s time for the university to step up and deliver its promise of better turf at Strassweg. The home site carousel has run its course. Let’s take it out of Mother Nature’s hands and create our own destiny. It starts with a commitment, and the question remains, who will be willing to make it?