After a long – and I mean very long – hiatus, we are back blogging here in this little corner of the World Wide Web.
So much happening – Vikings training camp, the Olympics (with Melrose triple jumper Amanda Smock set to compete in the prelims in her event Friday and Tech BMX racer Alise Post ready to compete next week) and the St. John’s kickoff luncheon scheduled for Thursday (with practice set to start Aug. 12).
But let’s start with Johnnies soccer, which will be playing its home games at Clemens Stadium this fall, the school announced Monday.
Construction of a new soccer game field — being built largely on the site of the school’s old field — is already underway. But the $600,000 new facility — to be named Haws Field and made possible, in part, by a $400,000 donation from Coborn’s Inc. — will not be ready for play until the fall of 2013. Which meant the team had to find a new place to play this season.
The original plan was to play on an existing recreation field nearby the new soccer field. But Johnnies soccer coach John Haws said those plans proved unworkable.
“As part of the construction process, we had to cut off irrigation lines to the back area (where the rec field was located), and we had that month of heat which killed everything,” Haws said. “It was just brown, scorched earth. It’s started to come back now. But it just wasn’t going to be a good surface to play college soccer on.
“Especially because we will be practicing on that field, and clubs and intramurals will be playing on it as well. Even if the surface was healthy, it wouldn’t be good. And the surface is not healthy.”
So Haws sounded out opposing coaches on the idea of playing at Clemens Stadium and received approval move all seven of its home soccer matches there. Five of those matches will be played under the newly-installed lights, which will help avoid conflicts with the St. John’s football team.
A match against Carleton — originally scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sept. 15 (the same time as the Johnnies home football game against St. Thomas) has been moved to 7 p.m. on Sept. 14. And the regular-season finale against Concordia will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 — a few hours after the Johnnies take on Gustavus in football.
“The coaches I approached were all really gracious,” Haws said. “They were willing to be flexible and that was huge. I think they all wanted to find the best possible solution.”
Haws said the playing field will extend almost all the way out to the track and needed soccer markings will be laid down by tape, which will be pulled up at the conclusion of each game.
“We looked at using spray chalk, and that was a great solution as long as we could guarantee it wouldn’t rain,” Haws said. “Which of course we can’t guarantee.”
St. John’s athletic director Tom Stock said using Clemens Stadium is a great one-year solution before soccer moves into its new home in 2013.
“It’s a pretty great backup,” said Stock, who added that seeding of the grass surface on the new soccer field is expected to take place sometime next month, but that it will require roughly a year of growth before the field will be ready for play.
“Especially with some of the amenities, like lights, that we’ve added (at Clemens Stadium). I think playing the games there will just make for a better atmosphere all around.”\
The complete St. John’s home soccer field this season will be as follows:
Sept. 2 – vs. Luther (Iowa), 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 – vs. Carleton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 – vs. Wartburg (Iowa), 2 p.m.
Sept. 26 – vs. Augsburg, 7:30 p.m.
Oct.. 17 – vs. Macalester, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 – vs. Hamline, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 – vs. Concordia, 7:30 p.m.
* In other news, the St. John’s golf team will start its fall season with a bang by competing at the Gopher Invitational – hosted by the University of Minnesota – in Wayzata Sept. 9-10.
The Johnnies are the lone Division III team competing. The rest of the field includes Minnesota, Southern Methodist, Kent State, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Penn State, NC-Charlotte, Lamar, Arizona State, Memphis, North Texas, New Mexico and California.
* The rest of the week: I will be covering the SJU kickoff luncheon Thursday at St. Benedict and will have some post-luncheon fare here afterward. Then, Friday, I will be covering Amanda Smock as she competes in London (from my post in St. Cloud, of course), running down local reaction to how she fares.
A reminder, you can also follow along on Twitter where I post @rajko1973.
It’s good to be back.