ADA — It was like watching a pack of rhinos plow through a mud pit.
Last year’s Baldwin-Wallace at Ohio Northern football game was one of many over the years that was played in a quagmire of mud and slop.
Those days at ONU’s Dial-Roberson Stadium are gone.
ONU’s Dial-Roberson Stadium, along with the infield of the adjacent track complex, will both receive artificial field turf for the upcoming season.
“We’re fired up. The players I’ve talked to are excited,” ONU football coach Dean Paul said. “It’s a great day to be a Polar Bear.”
ONU will become the ninth team in the Ohio Athletic Conference to have field turf. But it will be the first one with two separate fields of field turf.
The football team plays at Dial-Roberson, while the men’s and women’s soccer teams will play on the infield of the track complex. Other teams could benefit as well, with practices on the turf.
“It’ll be good for many of our programs,” Paul said. “Like on days when the baseball team can’t practice on their field, they can come over and use the turf.”
Paul said, depending on the condition of his practice fields, the football team will occasionally practice at Dial-Roberson.
Overall, the announcement is huge for the program.
“I think it’s big for recruiting,” Paul said. “More and more people have turf at the high schools. Those games against Wilmington and B-W last year, it was pouring rain and it didn’t reflect positively on us (with a mud field). This helps us address that.”
ONU’s opening football game on Sept. 7 against Alfred State (N.Y.) will be moved to Ada’s War Memorial Stadium.
An ONU press release said that, “pending construction schedules and weather conditions, Ohio Northern anticipates the new turf fields will be dedicated on Oct. 5, when the new field at Dial-Roberson Stadium will be named for William “Bill” Robinson, who is retiring after more than 50 years of service to ONU.” Robinson is a long-time ONU staff member.
Paul said the turf field movement began to get momentum in May when ONU president Daniel A. DiBiasio’s wife, Chris Burns-DiBiasio, met with the university’s trustees’ wives. She had them speak to a number of coaches for a few hours.
“We weren’t trying to be pushy,” Paul said. “We just said what our mission was and how it was an extension of the classroom.”
The trustees wives went back and made recommendations to their husbands.
“That was the big start to the fund raising and it gained momentum from there,” Paul said.
Paul said there were four major donors to the project, but at this time, they wanted to remain anonymous.
ONU is also planning to add lights to Dial-Roberson in the future.
“At that point, we’d be in position to host a high school playoff game,” Paul said.
ONU Field Turf