A Proud Tradition Carried Forward
Few things can unite and energize a university community like intercollegiate athletics, and few universities in the world can boast an athletic tradition as strong and proud as Penn State. Ours is a tradition steeped in success on and off the field—a tradition of fans and cheers and victories, but also of nurturing well-rounded graduates who have learned to balance academics and athletics to achieve good health and a solid education.
Fostering a climate in which athletic achievement goes hand-in-hand with academic excellence is a priority for Penn State Harrisburg, and we have made great strides in this direction. In just a few short years of NCAA Division III status, several of our teams have distinguished themselves as major contenders, building remarkable momentum that future teams can ride to even greater success. Yet our campus athletic facilities are currently inadequate to meet the needs of our growing athletics program, and our college lacks the financial resources to fully support the activities of our current sports and the additional sports we hope to offer in the near future.
Our vision is to provide our student-athletes with the facilities and program support that will allow them to reach the highest levels of individual and team achievement. Making that happen will require significant investment from our dedicated alumni and friends who share our belief in the value of intercollegiate athletics to the overall Penn State Harrisburg experience. This effort is an opportunity for generous donors to impact the lives of our talented and hard-working student-athletes by giving them the high-quality athletics program they deserve.
Strength to Build On
Our young varsity teams have already had remarkable success. The men’s golf team competed in the NCAA tournament both in 2011 (their first year of full eligibility) and 2012. The men’s tennis team has won two consecutive North Atlantic Conference (NAC) West Division championships and has competed in the NCAA tournament. Some standout players have emerged as well. Kara Boyd broke the NCAA Division III softball record for consecutive hits and was named statistical champion for triples per game in 2011. Basketball player Kenton Alston earned multiple school and conference accolades and an appearance in Sports Illustrated, and helped lead his team to its first regular season NEAC championship and the first conference tournament title game in school history.
Our program’s successes aren’t just about winning titles and breaking records. They’re also about the dedication and maturity that student-athletes learn by balancing athletic endeavors with academic pursuits—several of our teams and players have received academic honors from national organizations. These successes help carry on Penn State’s tradition of academic and athletic excellence, bringing the rest of the student body together to rally around our teams in shared excitement as spectators, and mutual pride as a college community.
Hurdles to Overcome
Shortly after Penn State Harrisburg began enrolling undergraduate students in 2004, the college established an Intercollegiate Athletics program to meet the co-curricular demands of a full-service undergraduate institution. In fall 2007, our twelve sports joined the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) and became NCAA Division III programs. Our student-athletes have already made their college proud, and the Penn State Harrisburg community has broadly embraced the emerging athletics program. Nonetheless, that program faces a number of limitations that are restricting the achievements of our student-athletes, which in turn limits the benefits they gain from participation in athletic competition.
The Intercollegiate Athletics program has, for example, outgrown its home in the Capital Union Building (CUB), the main athletic facility on campus. The CUB lacks dedicated locker rooms for our teams and coaches, uniform and equipment storage space, and an adequate fitness center both for the teams and the general student body. Our soccer field also lacks important features on site, such as bathrooms and storage space. More importantly, the current soccer field does not meet NCAA tournament requirements, so conference and NCAA tournament matches cannot be held at our campus.
Staffing limitations are also holding our programs back. While we are fortunate to have fine coaches who lead and inspire our students, the entire coaching staff consists of part-time employees. This presents a challenge because first-rate, nationally competitive programs need full-time coaches to build their teams and recruit promising players. And Penn State Harrisburg is striving to be just that— first-rate and nationally competitive—in the athletic arena as in academics. Our student-athletes, who have achieved so much in such a short time, have shown that they are ready and able to achieve even greater things. It is our responsibility as a University to create the supportive environment they need to do so.
Upgrading Our Facilities
Penn State Harrisburg is dedicated to creating opportunity, not yielding to limitations. That’s why we are undertaking a major upgrade to our campus’ athletic facilities. The first of these, an addition to the CUB, is already under construction. It will add four new locker rooms for teams and two for coaches; a storage room and laundry facilities; a state-of the art, 5,000-square-foot fitness center; and a new main entrance to the building. Slated for completion by fall 2012, this significant expansion has received partial funding from Penn State Harrisburg’s students, who voted to have their student facilities fee set aside for three years for the CUB project—a testament to the student body’s commitment to athletics and physical recreation at their campus.
On the horizon is a new soccer/multipurpose field, currently in the design stage. This field will meet NCAA tournament requirements and will provide the bathroom and storage facilities that are currently lacking. A second stage of construction to follow will add a small stadium and running track around the field that will more effectively serve the student and spectator needs for the growing athletics program. As a multipurpose facility, the field will also make possible the addition of several new sports to our roster, such as lacrosse, field hockey, and track and field.
Adding new sports means giving more students the opportunities for fulfillment and personal growth that athletics provide. It also means generating even more excitement in the larger Harrisburg community. Building connections between the college and the surrounding community is, in fact, a goal served by both the CUB and soccer field projects because both facilities will be made available for use by youth teams and other groups and individuals from the Capital Region.
Making an Impact
Funding major construction projects can be a challenge at any public institution, and Penn State Harrisburg is no exception. We do not have the resources on our own to turn our vision for Intercollegiate Athletics into a reality, so we must look to our dedicated alumni and friends, whose generous philanthropy has already done so much for Penn State Harrisburg. And just as our athletes routinely turn challenges into opportunities, the challenge of making Intercollegiate Athletics at Penn State Harrisburg the best it can be becomes an opportunity for you to make a powerful and lasting difference in the lives of our student-athletes and the entire Penn State Harrisburg community.
Donors to the CUB addition, for example, will be recognized through individually named spaces in the facility. Similar opportunities will eventually become available in the soccer field and stadium. Penn State Harrisburg also seeks gifts to establish endowed program funds and coaches’ positions. These types of funds would be invested and generate an annual spending amount in perpetuity that would provide stable, reliable support year after year. Endowed coaches’ positions in particular would allow us to hire full-time coaches who could recruit first-rate student-athletes and greatly increase the stature of our programs. Any of these naming opportunities is an excellent way to help Penn State Harrisburg take Intercollegiate Athletics to new levels of achievement while also establishing a lasting philanthropic legacy for you or your family.
Here are some examples of building naming opportunities available in both the new and existing sections of the CUB:
- Gymnasium: $1,600,000
- Pool: $1,000,000
- Fitness Center: $850,000
- Team Locker Room (4): $175,000
- Athletic Offices: $150,000
- Racquetball Court (4): $100,000
- Family Changing Room: $25,000
- Referee Locker Room: $10,000
For more information, email [email protected], or call 717-948-6316 to speak with Marissa Hoover, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, or Abby Beswick, Associate Director of Development.