WATERVILLE — Kelly Terwilliger scanned the new Bill Alfond Field at Colby College. The head field hockey coach at Colby, Terwilliger had just completed her team’s first official practice of the season. Now, she had time to admire the Mules’ new home.

“The wow factor,” Terwilliger said. “It’s going to provide a great game day experience.”

This fall, Colby’s field hockey and soccer teams begin play on new fields, which sit behind the Harold Alfond Athletic Center. The first official practices on the new fields began at 6:30 Thursday morning. Bill Alfond Field is a synthetic turf field and is the home of Colby’s field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams. The new soccer pitch and adjacent practice field are natural grass. Across campus, a new natural grass rugby field is complete.

“You don’t see this at a lot of places,” Colby athletic director Jake Olkkola said. “I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of facilities, a lot of Division I facilities, and I can say I haven’t seen anything like this.”

The Colby women’s soccer team will be the first to play a game on the new field, when it hosts Husson on Sept. 10. The men’s soccer team plays its first home game Sept. 12, against crosstown rival Thomas. The field hockey team makes its new field debut Sept. 16 against New England Small College Athletic Conference rival Williams.

The fields will be officially dedicated at 10 a.m. Sept. 17, prior to three games that day.

Each of the new game fields sits in a bowl. Bleachers are built into the hillside of each field, allowing fans excellent views of the action.

“They set the new standard,” Colby women’s lacrosse coach Karen Henning said. “You can walk from field to field and be a part of everything.”

As athletes returned to campus over the last few days, they got their first looks at the new fields, and were impressed.

“I’m just kind of in awe. It’s such a great opportunity to play here,” said Stan Clarke, a sophomore goalie with the men’s soccer team.

Added junior Dan Carlson, also a men’s soccer goalie: “I feel like it will definitely motivate the team toward achieving our goals.”

The captain of Colby’s field hockey team, senior Kat Restrepo, said the team received updates from Terwilliger throughout the summer. The turf is down! The lights are up! Restrepo said the updates made her eager to come back to campus and start the season.

“We’re kind of writing the story about this field,” Restrepo said. “It adds to the specialness of my senior year.”

While the previous Bill Alfond field featured old-style AstroTurf, the new field’s artificial turf plays more like natural grass.

“It’s a new surface for us. We’re getting used to it,” Terwilliger said.

The new fields are the latest step in Colby’s athletic facilities upgrade plans. In recent years, new softball and baseball fields opened. A new 350,000 square-foot and $200 million state-of-the-art athletic center is slated to open in 2020. That building will include an indoor track, fitness center, ice arena, gymnasium, and Maine’s only Olympic-sized pool.

“We have high expectations, and we wanted to have facilities that match those expectations,” Olkkola said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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