BY JOHN DECOSTE
Acadia University officially opened its refurbished Raymond Field at a Homecoming weekend ceremony Oct. 13, paying tribute to those who made the project a reality.
Prior to a ceremonial ribbon cutting at centre field, university officials took time to thank the friends and alumni supporters who contributed more than $1.6 million toward Phase One of a $4 million capital campaign. “All the contributions toward the expansion and modernization of Raymond Field, the track, and its amenities will make this facility a substantially better resource for our athletes as well as for our community,” said university president Dr. Gail Dinter-Gottlieb. “We are proud to have such enthusiastic and dedicated supporters.”
First and foremost among those supporters is former Acadia head football coach John Huard Sr., whose generosity provided the ‘lead gift’ of the installation of the FieldTurfTM artificial surface. The retrofit also includes field lights and an all-weather running track. “Acadia University now has the best university field in all of Canada,” Huard, CEO of Northeast Turf, a company based in his native Maine, said in his remarks. “This is the most advanced field turf available, and it will provide a premium surface for athletes.”
Huard serves as honorary chair of a committee comprised of Acadia football alumni from the past 50 years, but especially members of the 1979 and 1981 Vanier Cup champion Axemen teams he coached.
Raised $2.8 million
To date, the group led by ‘Move the Chains’ Football Capital Campaign co-chairs Don Clow and Tony Munden has raised nearly $2.8 million toward Acadia’s ‘The Tides are Turning’ capital campaign. “As a football alumnus who played for coach Huard, I’d like to pay tribute to those who have worked so hard to make our ‘Field of Dreams’ a reality,” Clow said in his remarks.
Clow, a member of both Vanier Cup winning teams, explained that the inspiration for the campaign was former Axemen Bill Little, a member of the 1979 and 1981 champions who passed away tragically in 2005. “Bill was one of our most popular teammates,” Clow said of Little. “He played five different positions, including special teams, with pride and without fanfare. “After his funeral, coach Huard challenged us as a team to work together to do something for Acadia in his memory. It’s wonderful to see something so tragic provide the inspiration for something so positive.”
Huard described the 1979 and 1981 Acadia football teams as “a very unique group of young men that always did things together, and who are still pretty tight today.”
As for the motivation behind his gift, Huard said, “this is such a wonderful place. People here accepted me and my family and included us in their community. Our children went to school here. The feeling of driving through the Valley still gives me goosebumps.”
Set task, stuck to it
Huard expressed pride in his former players and the other Acadia football alumni setting themselves a task, sticking to it and working together to achieve their goal.
He also has no doubt the ultimate goal of the campaign will be reached. “The committee will complete its goal,” he said. “We’re at halftime now. We’ll make it happen.”
Dinter-Gottlieb also thanked the Associated Alumni of Acadia University, which anted up approximately $250,000 as a last-minute donation to allow the project to be finished,
the Town of Wolfville and the provincial government, which contributed $400,000. “All of us recognize the importance of the Acadia spirit, which emerges at its best during sporting events,” she said. “Today, the Acadia spirit resonates powerfully through our volunteers, friends and alumni who have supported us. “This represents more than just a field for Acadia’s sports teams,” Dinter-Gottlieb said. “This is an opportunity to come together to promote healthy and active living. It’s also an opportunity for Acadia’s coaches to recruit the best student-athletes to our campus. “We look forward to the opportunities this investment will create for Acadia and for our surrounding commmunity.”
BY JOHN DECOSTE