Donors, student-athletes, administrators and friends of the university took part Thursday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new athletics facility.
The Elon University community gathered Thursday afternoon to formally dedicate Hunt Softball Park and BB&T Field, the new home of the Elon Phoenix softball team and the latest addition to a growing area of campus on North Williamson Avenue.
Named for Vicky and Sam Hunt of Burlington, N.C., who gave lead gifts of more than $1.25 million for the project, the stadium opened earlier in February and has already witnessed its first record-breaking performance.
Vicky Hunt is an Elon trustee and Sam is a local business leader and a softball fan.
BB&T Corporation, one of the largest financial services holding companies in the nation, also made a $500,000 gift to complete fundraising for the park, and gifts from Zac Walker III ’60 and his wife, Dot, whose contributions helped complete Elon’s North Athletics Complex. The new park was also supported by the estates of Florence Kivette Childress ’37 and Camille Kivette ’41.
“All of our donors have made a wonderful thing possible,” said Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “You help us recruit great coaches … you help us recruit great students. This is an experience these women are having that is going to prepare them for leadership in life, and I don’t know if we’ve ever had a time where we need leadership more than we do right now.”
BB&T Field features natural turf outfield, a synthetic turf infield apron and a high-tech clay infield with optimal drainage, allowing games to be played within minutes of a rainstorm. Phase I of Hunt Softball Park includes brick grandstands with seating for 311 fans and a spacious press box; concourse and concessions areas; two batting cages and a bullpen on the home side; and a batting cage and bullpen on the visitors side.
Work will begin soon on a second phase of the project, providing a field house that will include a locker room, team lounge, coaches’ offices and training facilities.
“This facility raises the bar for our women’s softball program beyond the quotations of ‘significantly,’” said Director of Athletics Dave Blank. “What a difference this is going to make. … A vision like this doesn’t happen without people like Vicky and Sam Hunt who stepped forward and said, ‘This is important.’”
Head Softball Coach Kathy Bocock also offered remarks, as did senior Tomeka Watson, the all-time home run leader for the Elon softball program. Watson belted her 27th career home run in an 8-2 win over Hampton on Feb. 24 during the final day of the Phoenix Softball Clash tournament at Hunt Softball Park.
“I can’t remember a more exciting time for softball here at Elon,” Bocock said. “This stadium, with all its amenities … will help us in attracting and recruiting top players to Elon.”
“After so many memories at East Field, I’m excited to start making more memories here at Hunt Softball Park and BB&T Field,” Watson said. “Having this kind of energy and excitement is what every student-athlete lives to play for.”