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August 18, 2007

 

Impressive athletic facelift has TC3 looking good

TC3

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tompkins Cortland CC goalie Casey Ebeling practices with teammates on the new lighted, turf soccer field with bleachers and a press box.  The Dryden school has upgraded all of its athletic facilities.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

DRYDEN — During the 2006-2007 sports year at Tompkins Cortland Community College, Panther student-athletes and fans knew that this following season would really be something very special. While a number of the teams did enjoy success, it was the continued anticipation of what was happening at the Dryden campus that really had those underclassmen excited about their senior seasons.
During the 2007 spring season, TC3 baseball and softball both got to play on their new fields. While the baseball field still has a new scoreboard to get up and running, both teams played on vastly improved infields and outfields. Both facilities looked fantastic.
While these teams were playing on their new digs, the new soccer/lacrosse stadium was being built and the work was continuing on the new athletic center and field house. The finishing touches are still going on the athletic center, but the field house and the new stadium are ready to go.
This past Wednesday, TC3 men and women began pre-season soccer practice on the new artificial turf that will be their home. A 120-yard long-by-75-yard wide FieldTurf layout, similar to what is now in use at SUNY Cortland and Homer High School, is what these teams will now practice and play NJCAA contests on. The stadium bleachers will seat 750 people and the big TC3 Panther head logo will stare back at you from the center of the field. The field is also lighted so that the Panthers get now play night games to draw in more fans.
The athletic center has a brand new full-size NCAA basketball court, plus room width-wise across the main court for two smaller basketball courts and volleyball courts in the biggest area of the main gymnasium. All are laid out and the new hardwood floor is state of the art in looks and comfort. Both the current 3-point line and the new 3-point line (20-feet-9 inches) that goes into effect for the 2008-2009 season are painted in the court. The two main backboards contain the no-time feature that has the border light up when the time runs out to eliminate any guesswork for the officials. The seating capacity with all the bleachers pulled out is 1,500 people. There is space at both ends of the courts for additional temporary seating, so the capacity could go up to between 1,800 and 1,900 with standing room.
There are also tickets booths, concession stands, rest rooms and trophy cases, plus an extra multi-purpose room for meetings, dances or whatever else needs a large space on the first floor.
The athletic center also houses the fitness center on the second floor, plus a VIP room for watching games and the new offices for athletic director Mick McDaniel, the Panther coaches and new facility manager Courtney Wormuth.
Centered between athletic center and the new stadium is the field house which can house any TC3 team for indoor practice during inclement weather. There is a large curtain that can be raised and lowered electrically to keep practices going while allowing people to walk or run around the outer perimeter safely. The field house surface is lined for lacrosse and soccer and can allow for practices to run safely with no outer barriers except the curtain.
Without a doubt, TC3 now has some of the nicest athletic facilities in the area.
“There is no excuse for a student-athlete to not want to come to TC3 now,” McDaniel said. “There was very little we could do with the old facility and the space constraints we had. Now, with this new building (athletic center), we can have multiple events going on at once, which is great for our students.”
“Before,” McDaniel continued. “If basketball practices were going on, you could not have any type of intramural program going on for four or five hours. Obviously it is great for bringing in kids, but it is really going to be better for everyone on campus. We can now look at have concerts and other events as well. We are hoping to host different league championship games and have area high school come and play some games here. These facilities can all be great neutral sites for more important games.”
A lot of planning and thought went into what was needed to upgrade the athletic facilities.
“There were specific focuses we had in planning these facilities,” McDaniel said. “We wanted the field house for practices, plus things like indoor soccer and lacrosse and things like that. We wanted to make sure that it was built the right way. We did not want some big cavernous thing. There is some personality to that building.
“A lot of people have come to look around,” McDaniel continued. “We have had a lot of coaches come look at it and we had an athletic directors conference here and we showed them around. All were in agreement that there is nothing like this at the two-year level.”
One of the biggest supporters for this project, and the entire overall improvements being made to the Dryden campus is TC3 president Carl Haynes.
“There are a lot of coaches, athletic directors and athletes with a lot of the same things on their minds,” McDaniel acknowledged. “They would all like to push a button and say that this is what they want. Without the support of President Haynes, the TC3 faculty and staff, and both Tompkins and Cortland County officials, this would not have happened.
“You were in the old gym enough in the past,” McDaniel continued. “You know that much of the push to renovate was to get that gym out of the middle of the building and create new classroom and learning space that was needed because the college is growing so much. We really did benefit on the athletic end. We had never done any growth as far as a separate building in the past. We had only done some add-ons to the current building. We have been saving up these ideas for a long time. President Haynes has certainly been the quarterback for the whole scheme overall.”
Recruiting for the 2007-2008 season was good based on the promise of the new facilities and McDaniel expects the 2008-2009 recruiting effort will be even better as more high school kids get to see the new facilities.
“As far as coach-to-coach or academics-to-academics,” McDaniel said. “We are always right there with other colleges. We lost out to those other school because of our athletic facilities. We do not have that problem now. There are no excuses to not get better athletes here now.”
TC3 did host the Cortland County American Legion Baseball championship this summer and the Dryden campus will help to host the NYSPHSAA girls’ soccer tournament this fall. McDaniel hopes to also host a number of Interscholastic Athletic Conference championships in different sports and even some Section 4 tournaments. In the near future, look for some top-notch Midstate Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region III Tournament play to come to TC3 as well.
The first game at the new stadium will take place Aug. 29 when the TC3 women host Sussex County CC from New Jersey at 7 p.m. in soccer action.
The first TC3 men’s soccer match will take place Sept. 1 at 8:15 p.m. as the Panthers host Holyoke CC from Massachusetts in NJCAA Northeast Cup action.
The TC3 volleyball squad will place its first match in the new gym Sept. 5 when Davis College comes to Dryden for a 6 p.m. contest.