Director of Athletics Bob Howe '80 writes about the impact that the new lights on Pratt Field have had on student life on the Island:
On nearly every weekend so far this school year, we have scheduled a night athletic contest on Pratt Field under our newly installed field lights. Last Saturday night was just one more example of the impact these lights have had on improving student life at Loomis Chaffee.
The boys varsity soccer game against Suffield Academy began as scheduled at 7 p.m., nearly an hour after sunset. In years past in the waning autumn daylight hours, the Athletics Department staff rented and set up 10 portable lighting units, five on each side of the field, and these units provided barely adequate lighting. Along with the lack of good lighting came a diesel smell and a generator noise from the portable lights that kept people from enjoying what they had come to see. It was always a lot of work for very little payback.
Last Saturday night I watched a great soccer game, and I saw more people attending a Loomis athletic contest than I had seen in the 10 years I’ve been here. Having these lights, these quiet, tall, and non-smelly landmarks, has added an “x” factor to what we can do for our students every weekend of the term.
What impressed me most about the Saturday night crowd was its diverse makeup. Of course there were our die-hard student fans, the same group that appears at every contest regardless of the time of day. Add to them multiple other fall athletic teams that showed up in groups excited to see their classmates compete. I saw more parents at the game than I can remember, and many of these parents had kids playing on Loomis teams other than the boys soccer team on the field. Suffield Academy arrived with three school bus loads of students just after the game started, and I must say they were a great group throughout the night, just as our students were.
As I scanned the field throughout the night, I noticed more groups still. There was a youth soccer group from town in attendance. I saw Windsor residents from local addresses just because they knew something was going on at Loomis and they were curious. Trustees and faculty stood watching both the soccer game being played and the great atmosphere that was spilling over before them.
Adding these outdoor field lights to our repertoire of athletics facilities has done so much for student life in a short time. The soccer match with Suffield was a game that ended in a 0-0 tie, but more importantly it was a game played to raise awareness of the Nothing But Nets organization. Both the Suffield Academy and Loomis soccer teams were united in their support of raising awareness and funds for an organization that purchases mosquito netting for families in African nations who can’t afford the nets, reducing the risk of malaria.
Community and support of one another is and always has been a central theme of who we are and what we do at Loomis Chaffee. Saturday’s event on Pratt Field underlined this theme in many ways.
I want to thank our boys varsity soccer coaches, Charlie Bour, Andrew Hutchinson, and Jay Thornhill, for spearheading such a worthwhile event complete with a youth soccer halftime showcase scrimmage. A special thanks also goes to Bobbi Moran, our head field hockey coach, for putting together another special night the week before with the Play for the Cure cancer awareness game in the evening before a similarly large crowd. Both events raised valuable funds that will be donated to these charities.
Students getting the chance to support one another, schools coming together to support charity work, more faculty being able to attend more evening events, and a very involved student activity group have made this inaugural season of permanent field lighting at Loomis a big success. Thanks to all. Be sure to keep your eye on the schedule for the next not-to-be-missed event!