Robert J. Talbot Field will welcome the upcoming season for the Cardinals with a new feature: stadium lights.
Until now, the baseball and softball teams have had to face common enemies: a setting sun and a dark field. While the teams have been able to thrive despite this—the baseball team earned a spot in the 2022 Division III College World Series—the lack of light impacts everything from practice times to game locations and, at worst, the possibility for wins.
“A lot of us have pretty heavy class schedules, and since this is Division III, class comes first. But now, having the lights, we can practice later, so we will have full team practice and we won’t have as many girls missing practice because of class, which is nice for us to have.” — senior softball player Katherine Hurd
For Picardo specifically, the primary goal is player development. “You spend all this time on the road recruiting potential student-athletes, but it’s what you do with them when you get here,” he said. “When your whole team is able to practice together, you get better.”
However, the practical implications for the lights go beyond performance. Players shared that the field serves as a hub for former, current, and future members of the teams to come together and connect, perform, and inspire. Members of the softball and baseball teams expressed a feeling that the upgrades to the field give them the opportunity to return to a part of campus they would always be able to call “home.”
Robert J. Talbot Field has been home to the CatholicU baseball and softball teams since the 1980s. In 2007, the field went under significant renovations, including new stadium seating, a state-of-the-art press box, fencing with a windscreen, and a warning track. The lights are the latest addition and a part of the Diamond Project, an initiative seeking to improve the student-athlete experience by upgrading Talbot Field. Thanks to the generous gift of $2.3 million from the Jones family, Juan and Lisa Jones P ’20 and their son, Christian, B.A. 2020, a four-year member of the baseball team, the first phase—installing championship-level lighting structures—of the four-phase project is complete.
“It really touched us, personally, to be able to light the way for the baseball field and the softball field. The fact that we, as a family, could make the decision to make that contribution is really what made it special." — Trustee Juan Jones, P ’20.
And family is a sentiment that players on both teams understand well. Junior baseball player Cormac Terry stated, “I think that being on the team is like being in a family.”
“A great testament to this was the showing from alumni at the playoffs and the World Series last year. We had countless alumni that traveled across the country, on their dime, just to watch us play. This show of support from alumni and their continued connection is a great testament to the family that is CatholicU Baseball,” he said.
Alumnus Christian Jones, stated, “I would say in general, it's amazing just to be able to pay it forward. Obviously my time at Catholic is over, and went by very quickly. I think about it all the time. But the fact that I know that the younger guys are going to be able to use those lights is great.”
The students are most looking forward to a time where they, too, can add to the legacy of their CatholicU team. Being able to see the field they spent so much time on grow and change has been vital to them as they progress through the program and into their careers.
“I think that we have really great alumni who have supported us. I think that having this project happen as I’m getting ready to leave the program will definitely encourage me to want to come back and see what improvements they continue to make on the field, just like some of the previous alumni have done while I’ve been here,” said Hurd.
The teams are also looking forward to hosting night games that alumni, fans, and friends can attend, including the first night baseball game at Robert J. Talbot Field on March 29 against Johns Hopkins. Picardo said they’re hoping to add more night games to the schedule and eventually host the conference tournament. “When you’re a kid and you’re in Little League and you’re playing under the lights, there’s an excitement that never goes away,” Picardo said. “There’s just something about night baseball.”
Published on: Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Campaign Theme: Student Success
Tags: Men's Athletics, Women's Athletics, Baseball, softball, academic environment