To a student athlete like Bernadette Tenuto, the improvements to many of the athletic facilities at Stony Brook are a welcomed addition to the campus environment. As a senior majoring in business management, Tenuto has played first base on the softball team before, during and after the renovations, giving her a close insight to the changes that have occurred among the chalk lines and bleachers.
Tenuto started playing softball on the University Field as a freshman in the fall of 2008. She describes the fields back then as”rough, the dirt was hard, and we just had a black windscreen, just plain black. It was very blah, I guess you can say. Every day you went out there and did your best, but some days we did take bad hops just because, I think, of our field conditions.”
With the new additions, it is a fresh feeling.
Perhaps the most noticeable change to University Field was the installation of a new red windscreen, tying the field together with the other athletic facilities decorated in red.
The new windscreen has “Seawolves Softball” written on it, along with “Get your red on,” in left field.
“Just changing the windscreen, it makes it feel more like, you know, that’s Stony Brook’s softball field,” she said. “Like it’s our field.”
“I was kind of shocked, because we’re not a money-generating sport, so I didn’t think improvements would happen so quickly,” Tenuto said. “They made the infield a lot better, softer than it was before.”
Seawolves softball team head coach Megan Bryant offered her own insight to the field she is coached on for the past 12 seasons.
“The windscreen was a nice addition, but there’s other things that really need to be done to the field,” Bryant said. “The playing surface itself is really nice, but there’s things we need to do for the surrounding structures.”
To a student athlete playing at SBU before the improvements, it might have seemed like the commitment to the school’s athletic programs was lacking. Tenuto said she remembers her feelings when beginning to play here.
“When I first got here, all the money I felt went to academics, and now the athletic department is really making a name for itself and trying to do things to make themselves better,” she said. “So it’s not just that Stony Brook is known for academics; it’s going to be academics and athletics.”
The updating of facilities such as the track, Joe Nathan Field and the softball team’s University Field might be foreshadowing the future of its athletic programs.
“I thought that these improvements would help [SBU] better their facilities,” Tenuto said. “In case they want to switch conferences or move into bigger and better things in the future.”
When asked what she thought the biggest improvement to all the fields was, Tenuto said, “The baseball field, because they’re a very good team. Even though they don’t generate revenue, they deserved a better field, and they finally got it by donation from Joe Nathan.”
The construction of Joe Nathan Field was completed in May 2011 and included the installation of new dugouts and bullpens, as well as the replacement of grass with FieldTurf.
If there was any difference between SBU’s athletic facilities and those at other SUNY campuses, these latest upgrades make student athletes like Tenuto feel like they are playing on an equal footing.
“The other SUNY schools have a better infield and a more level playing outfield,” Tenuto said. “These improvements not only brought them up to par, but I think in some circumstances they exceeded other [campuses].” When asked her impression of other teams visiting the new fields, she said, “I can say some are even a little jealous because of how quickly drastic changes have occurred.”