Let There Be Lights
April 30, 2021
by Conor Bentley (MEd ’08)
For athletes, there is nothing quite like playing outside under the lights. It adds drama and excitement to a sporting event, and now our Griffin teams can experience it on a regular basis.
Westminster installed state-of-the-art LED lights on Dumke Field in September 2020, the culmination of a project that began over 10 years ago when the field was first constructed. Athletic director, Shay Wyatt, says that it was always part of the college’s long-term plan to have lights on the field, and it’s something that coaches and student-athletes recognize as a game-changer. “We know this upgrade to our facility is very significant and enhances the student experience,” he says.
Women’s soccer coach, Tony LeBlanc (’05), recalls how there wasn’t even a field on campus when he was a student-athlete and says the addition of the lights is the final piece of the puzzle for the school’s field sports. "The players are very excited about night games,” Tony says. “It gives a special feeling.”
That special feeling was on display at a small, socially distanced ceremony last September, when the lights were turned on for the campus community for the first time. President Beth Dobkin presided over the event and noted that having lights is key to Westminster competing in the NCAA Division II. “The facilities need to match the level of play at which our students compete,” Beth noted, acknowledging the donors who helped make the lights possible. “Our donors recognize the value of facility improvement to the student experience.”
The lights are environmentally friendly, meet dark-sky requirements, and have very little spillover into the surrounding neighborhood, which is something that was of paramount concern when seeking to complete this project. Shay says that Musco, the company that installed the lights, has “the best reputation in the business”; and their generous partnership was critical to making this improvement to Dumke Field. “They have so much experience with installing field lights in an urban setting.”
Lighting the field creates opportunity for increased playability, more practice time for teams, and the thrill of night games. Fans and prospective students will no doubt catch the excitement around Westminster athletics once they see the teams at night, without having to leave work or class for a daytime game—and night games mean it won’t be as hot in the bleachers either. Tony is looking forward to the new energy the field lights will bring to games. “The lights will unite the campus and get more fans out,” he predicts.
Evening tailgates and other campus events will also be possible on the field once games can be played and social distancing is no longer required. Though most of Westminster’s teams were unable to compete on the field during the 2020 Fall Semester due to COVID-19 restrictions, many student-athletes enjoyed the new lights during night practices throughout the semester. The Westminster community is excited to cheer on the Griffins both day and night as games resume this year.