Football Field Gets Finishing Touches

Jim Amidon — August 25 — The Field Turf crew installing the new playing surface at Hollett Little Giant Stadium is entering the final phase of work. On Tuesday, the crew began spreading tons and tons of fine white sand, over which they spread billions of pieces of granulated rubber.

See pictures from Tuesday afternoon here.

Two separate trucks were in the process of spreading granulated rubber Tuesday afternoon.

The process looks a bit like spreading fertilizer on your lawn — but using a fertilizer spreader on steroids!

After one layer of sand was spread, in came tons of tiny rubber specks. Once the rubber is spread, another tractor with a large agitating brush goes over the field, sideline to sideline, to work the rubber into the sand, even out the particles, and help the material settle as deeply in the turf as possible.

While the Field Turf guys are doing that, another crew is resurfacing all of the Owen Huntsman Track elements, including the approach area for the high jump at the west end of the stadium, and the long jump and pole vault runways on the south and north sides of the field.

Work could be completed as early as Wednesday, but is likely to continue through Thursday. The Field Turf guys like to let the materials settle for several days before players take the field.

Given how magnificent the new surface looks, keeping the guys off it could be a tough task for Coach Raeburn and his staff.

Football Field Work Starting to Show Details

The wrinkles remind the average observer that Field Turf is a lot like carpet.

Howard W. Hewitt

– Work continues in the stifling heat at Hollett Little Giant Stadium. Workers have been laying turf down around the main playing field which is covered.

One of the more noticable highlights will be the coaches’ box and side field lines which are a bright white. Workers were laying turf on the visitor’s side of the field Friday morning with the other three sides yet to come.

See photos shot Friday morning here.

Matt Sanchez, the project foreman for Field Turf, said Monday the project takes about 14 days. After five days of progress, it’s easy to see how the labor-intensive project takes that long. The field hash marks have to be cut and sewn in along with all of the lettering.

Field work behind the Allen Center at the baseball field seem largely concentrated on drainage Friday.

Field Showing Progress with More Turf Going Down

Photo by Kyle Bender ’12, Tuesday afternoon, 8-10-2010

Workers made steady progress Tuesday on turf installation. The five-yard strips of turf continue to go down. The hash marks and numbers, field lettering all go down after the turf is in place.

Check out the photos for a close look at how the pieces are sewn together. There’s also a couple of shots from the continued drainage work at the new baseball field. Click here.

Field Turf Going Down on Hollett Little Giant Stadium

Howard Hewitt – Aug. 9, 2010 – Workers from Field Turf arrived early Monday morning and for the first time since early summer left showing green on Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

The five-yard wide pieces of turf will start going down at a faster pace tomorrow. This morning workers finished marking the field and transporting all of the rolls of turf to the field making them ready for installation.

Mark Sanchez, the foreman in charge of the Wabash College installation, talked about how the process works. 

The sight of green over the gravel was enough to lure several onlookers including Head Football Coach Erik Raeburn, Athletic Director Tom Bambrey and other school officials.

Check Kyle Bender’s two photo albums from today’s progress here and here.

When the project is complete, we’ll have a very cool time-lapse video to show most of the construction – start to finish – which has been headed up by Media Center Director Adam Bowen and his summer intern Adam Phipps.

My Morning in Northport with Phil Mikesell

Howard W. Hewitt, Northport, MI. – Some people ask retired Political Science Professor Phil Mikesell why he retired to a tiny village like Northport, Michigan.

Sure he can talk about the beautiful Grand Traverse Bay just down the street from his home or Lake Michigan just a few miles the opposite direction. But it’s the sense of community he really likes.
The village is about 600 residents with 40 percent of the population there just during the warm boating months. Northport is on the northern end of Leelanau County. And yes,  it does snow – about 140 inches two years ago. But last winter was far less severe.
The area draws retirees, authors, artists, and even Food Network star chef Mario Batali.
Mikesell and his wife, Vina, have been working on their retirement home for several years. They were introduced to the area by longtime Leelanau resident the late Dick Ristine, who lived in Leland.
The couple gutted the two-story house and had a wrap-around porch added on the front side. The main floor is an open floor plan connecting living space and a modern kitchen. The beautifully landscaped backyard keeps them both busy with flowers and vegetables.
But the fun part of my morning with Phil was riding around town and listening to his enthusiasm for this unique spot. We went up to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, where Phil serves as a member of the board promoting education and preservation of the landmark.
We drove across town to a trail in a naturally wooded area that Phil and a handful of other town men are creating. We passed the local fire station where Phil goes for morning coffee and chat. “Sort of like the Scarlett Inn,” he suggested.
As the Mikesells and I chatted on their front porch two different women stopped by to check in on details about community activities.
Phil talked about all of the arts and cultural activities just a half hour down in Traverse City.
Steve Charles will have a story in an upcoming issue of Wabash Magazine about Mikesell’s transition from college professor to active retiree. I simply visited to shoot some photos.
By the time I returned Phil to his home, I was convinced he should work for the local chamber of commerce or I should buy a Northport retirement home.
It sure seems he and Vina found the right place for an active community life, good neighbors, intellectual pursuits, and even some occasional hard work.

Not a bad way for any one to retire!

Managing a Winery Just Another Liberal Art for Lentych ’89

 Howard W. Hewitt, Omena, MI. – Tony Lentcyh ’89 is always stretching his liberal arts education. “I always tell people ‘when you get asked if you can do particular job, always tell them sure,’ ” he laughed. “That’s the liberal arts.”

Tony has a charm and easy-going demeanor which probably would convince most people even when he’s bluffing – if you can tell.
Lentych spent six years in Wabash admissions before working in Indianapolis and then Lansing, MI., in the public sector. His career was focused around public housing. But just a few years ago he was ready for a new direction.
“I was ready for a break and I was tired of politics,” he said. So when a friend was looking for a general manager to run the family Leelanau Cellars winery Tony said “sure.”
He hasn’t regretted it for a moment. He runs the business operation of Michigan’s largest wine producer and has seen business more than double since he joined the company.
Tony is a great illustration of how a liberal arts education can take any young man wherever they want to go and perhaps a few places they never imagined. You’ll see more on Tony’s career path from Classics major to manager of Michigan’s biggest producing winery soon on the Wabash website.
During a drive and walk-around tour Wednesday afternoon at Leelanau Cellars Tony mixed Wabash stories into a vineyard visit, quick tour of a production facility, and then a little time to taste some wine.
Known on campus as a gregarious and fun-loving guy during his four years in school and six more in admissions, he’s the kind of man who has never met a stranger. During the tour he visited vineyard workers, his winemaker, who holds the distinction of being the first female head winemaker in Michigan, and had fun with tasting room employees.
He’s improved business practices and hired local people with strong connections to the Leelanau area into the winery.
Like many of these visits the last 30-45 minutes was consumed with talk about Wabash. He’s convinced the diversity of his Wabash education is one of his biggest assets in dealing with the variety of people and challenges he faces each day.
Managing a winery, Tony said, is really managing a farm but instead of a fruit stand “we have a tasting room.”
He goes about his management style with a smile. Perhaps it’s because when he looks out the winery each day he sees Grand Traverse Bay, sailboats and people enjoying the area’s incredible beauty.
‘Sure,’ who wouldn’t want a job like that?

A Close Encounter with Tim Talbott’s Alpacas

Howard W. Hewitt, Grand Rapids, MI. – I am one with the Alpaca. 

Is this really in my job description? Should I renegotiate terms?
Did I willingly kiss an Alpaca? (It was really more of a nose rub!)
Yes, I did and it was awesome. No spitting, no humming – just an affectionate nose rub between friends. The Alpaca was well behaved too!
Dr. Tim Talbott ‘60 and his wife Jane are the proud owners of the Grand Alpaca Company, just outside Grand Rapids.
They’re proud of their 25 years of accomplishment and recognition as real pioneers in this country’s Alpaca history.
But walking the Alpaca ranch or farm, (Tim says either works) you get the feeling they’re just as proud and fond of their big-eyed “babies” as they are the business success.
Talbott is a retired colon-rectal surgeon who started looking for a retirement business back in 1985. Now Jane and Tim have 150 of the curious, somewhat timid, and furry animals.
I was in Grand Rapids to tell the story of how Tim has transitioned as successful and respected surgeon to trusted and respected Alpaca expert. Look for his story later this year in Wabash Magazine.
Tim and Jane raise the animals as breeding stock and sheer all their babies each spring for the highly-sought after soft fiber.
The details come later but the affection the couple show for their animals, calling each by name, is genuine and contagious. We moved from pen to pen trying to convince their ‘babies’ the stranger wasn’t a threat and just wanted to take their picture.
A few were just as curious about me as I was about the 150-pound animals. The one smooching me at top got to following me around and would have followed me out the gate had Tim not cut off his pursuit.
Of course, I have an effect on people that way but just didn’t expect it to translate to these little softies!

In photos: Top right, someone separate those two! Center left, Jane and Tim in front of the home they’ve shared through four children and hundreds of Alpacas. Lower right, Tim gets the "babes" to come out of the barn for photo time by using a handful of food.

Weather Can’t Slow Field Project

Howard Hewitt – Weather conditions over the past week and a half haven’t been great, but workers are busily progressing on Wabash’s new Athletic Fields construction projects . Our Public Affairs summer intern Kyle Bender ’12 went out with the camera Tuesday and took some updated shots. He also found an interesting story at the old football field.

Here are Kyle’s photos from June 8.

Here are some Jim Amidon photos from May 28.

Here are photos Jim shot May 27.

Bender ’12 Gains Real Appreciation for Big Bash

Kyle Bender ’12 – When interviewing for the Public Affairs and Marketing intern position, I was told there was only one weekend of the summer that I would be required to work – the Big Bash reunion weekend.  As I’d long looked for an excuse to attend the event, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Reflecting now upon the weekend, I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my time at Wabash.  While the Public Affairs staff put in long, grueling hours throughout the three day event to make sure the website was always kept up-to-date with almost real-time coverage, it really didn’t feel like work.  Rather, I found myself losing track of time, amazed with the number of alumni who had returned to reunite with long lost classmates and see how much their college has changed. 

The wide range of assignments that I was given allowed me to attend many events, from a variety of perspectives.

For example, my first task was to photograph the Wally Wabash golf outing at Rocky Ridge Golf Club.   This combined my love for the game of golf with a skill that I had no grasp of – photography.  However, I soon realized that it really isn’t too hard to take pictures of Wabash men at the golf course on a beautiful summer day.  Everyone was in a jovial mood. 

As part of my Public Affairs office rite-of-passage, the staff thought it would be great for me to spend Saturday morning as Wally Wabash during the Alumni Chapel Sing competition.  Originally slated to be held on the chapel steps, on a hot June day I would have only lasted ten minutes in the heavy costume before needing fresh air.  Fortunately for me, but unfortunate for the event, Saturday’s weather did not cooperate and the sing was held in Chadwick Court, site of much cooler temperatures. 

Playing Wally allowed me to move within the classes as they competed for the coveted Chapel Sing trophy. The level of determination of some of these men was incredible and I would have hated to be the judge of the competition.  It was also fun to pose with many alumni and their wives, although I never quite got over the phenomenon of not needing the perfect smile for every picture with the huge Wally head on.

However, it was the people I met that truly made my weekend unforgettable.  Al Wright ’50 drove all the way from New Jersey to be at the Big Bash.  I met him at the golf outing, where he was meticulously cleaning the very same golf clubs that he uses as he walks his local country club every morning.  He was so interested in hearing about my career plans and what was going on at the College that he almost missed the shot gun start.

Or Tom Freeman ’70.  Both natives of Delphi, Indiana, as well as brothers of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, Tom has been a man that I have long admired but never met.  I was fortunate to spend several moments with he and his wife as his class celebrated their 40th reunion. 

But perhaps the highlight of the weekend for me, from a professional standpoint, was the opportunity to interview Dean Reynolds ’70, longtime ABC and CBS news correspondent.  Reynolds gave a colloquium Saturday afternoon to a packed audience, giving his thoughts on the health of today’s news.  Simply talking with someone who has covered some of the biggest stories in our generation was an unbelievable experience, but it was even more special because it was a fellow Wabash man. 
For a Wabash College student, it was inspiring to spend time with these great alumni because it made me realize just how closely I am connected to them.  They once sat in the very same classrooms in Baxter and Center halls that I study in today.  We share some of the same professors and traditional experiences.  We are Wabash brothers.

As I admire all the accomplishments they have achieved after graduation, I cannot help but think of the members of my own class and know that there are many within destined for greatness.  Although it may seem galaxies away, someday there will be successful doctors, lawyers, and businessmen from the class of 2012. 

Most of us are at Wabash today because of an alum, usually someone we’d always admired in the community but never known where they attended college, took the time to recommend that we visit the campus.  The contributions and support they give largely funds our college, which allow competitive financial packages to be awarded to the best and brightest students that rival almost any school in the nation.  These men carry on the tradition and excellence that Wabash maintained for over 175 years. 

I pray that my classmates and I can show the same type of commitment and love for our alma mater that many of these graduates express on a daily basis.  They are what makes this place great. 


Athletics Fields Construction Underway

Kyle Bender ’12– A $6.2 million project to upgrade the football, baseball, soccer, and intramural facilities at Wabash College is underway.

The project, announced in March by President Patrick White, shows the continued commitment by Wabash College to provide first-class facilities not only for its students in the classroom, but also for those looking to stay physically fit through collegiate, intramural, and recreational sports. Read about President White’s announcement and see renderings of the final projects here.
Mud Hollow, where baseball has been played for 50 consecutive years, will soon become the new playing field for the Wabash soccer team with synthetic turf, permanent seating, a press box, and restrooms. The Hollow will also have two additional fields to be used for practice for the football team, as well as intramural sports.
Baseball will compete next season in the grassy lot on the southwest side of the Allen Center. Formerly the site of practice football fields, the baseball stadium will include permanent seating, batting cages, bullpens, a press box, a concession and restroom complex, and new scoreboard.
Finally, the playing surface at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium will be upgraded from grass to synthetic turf. 
The first phase of the project began Monday, as concrete was poured to build a bridge for bulldozers and heavy equipment to safely cross the J Owen Huntsman Outdoor Track. The machinery will be used to start plowing up the football field in preparation for the new turf field. The removal of sod will begin Monday, weather permitting.
Project manager Mike Stolle said multiple layers will be added to the base of the field before turf is finally set, including sand, gravel and rubber. The improvements to the football field will be completed by August 1, just in time for Coach Erik Raeburn and the Little Giants to begin the 2010 campaign.
Construction of the baseball stadium is set to begin in several weeks and run through the fall. 
Check back as Athletic Director Tom Bambrey, coaches, and students speak about how the project will impact Wabash College. We also plan to show pictures and video of the work being done throughout the summer.

(In photos: Top Left – Workers finish pouring cement, Bottom Right – natural grass at the football field for the last time)