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Saint Mary’s initiates renovation of athletic facilities

| Monday, April 20, 2015

Last Friday, Saint Mary’s broke ground on the new Patricia Wiedner Purcell Athletic Fields to be completed in the fall of 2016.

Mary Burke, a 1985 graduate and chair of the Board of Trustees, said the fields will be used for three sports — lacrosse, softball and soccer.

Burke said College President Carol Ann Mooney’s strategic plan “The Path to Leadership,” released in 2012, called for investment in the College’s athletic and recreation program.

According to Burke, Paul Purcell and Patricia Wiedner Purcell, 1969 graduates of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, respectively, are the leading donors in the College’s “Faith Always, Action Now” campaign and were a huge part of making the new fields a reality.

Burke said the generous donation has helped to make Mooney’s dream a reality, and the groundbreaking is just the beginning.

“At Saint Mary’s, we believe in the education of our students’ mind, body and spirit,” Burke said. “Well-rounded students are what the world needs and Saint Mary’s women are what this world needs.

“Today we take an important first step in fulfilling that essential healthy environment for our students.”

Similarly, Susan Rice, a 1961 graduate and co-chair of the Campaign Steering Committee, said the groundbreaking marks a significant benchmark in the focus of Saint Mary’s.

“Sister Madeleva used to talk about the Saint Mary’s graduate as the whole woman, and today the College is digging in to demonstrate its lifelong commitment to nurturing the physical health of that whole woman,” Rice said.

In order for Saint Mary’s to prepare the whole woman, their athletic facilities and wellness programs must adequately support the students, Rice said.

“Today we are affirming that the beauty of our campus will be strengthened by new fields, a new athletic facility, that will nurture our young women to be that whole woman,” Rice said.

Sarah Early, a 1972 graduate and co-chair of the Campaign Steering Committee, said Saint Mary’s had outgrown the current Angela Athletic Facility originally built in 1977.

Early said 72 percent of the incoming class of 2019 have been involved in high school athletics, which demonstrates the need for up-to-date athletics fields and facilities.

Additionally, Early said in the past eight years, three valedictorians have been student-athletes.

Junior Krista Knapke, president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of the basketball team, said all students, not just athletes, are excited about the new facilities.

Knapke thanked donors for making the new facilities possible and assured them that “an entire campus of Belles thanks you.”

After the ceremonial groundbreaking, director of athletics Julie Schroeder-Biek also thanked donors for making the new fields and renovation possible.

“For so long we have been waiting to put that shovel in the ground for the expansion and renovation, and today we did that,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Schroeder-Biek said despite the obvious facility limitations, all of the athletic programs have flourished due to the dedication, patience, perseverance, creativity and hard work of student-athletes and athletic staff.

“It’s so exciting to think what our women will accomplish on these new athletic fields, and one day very soon, the new athletic facility,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Mooney said to say that Paul and Patti are liberal with their time and financial resources would be an understatement.

“We would not be standing here today if it were not for their generosity,” Mooney said.

Patricia Wiedner Purcell said she lost touch with the Saint Mary’s campus as she was raising her family but as a member of the Campaign Steering committee she fell in love with Saint Mary’s again.

“All we want to do is make sure [Saint Mary’s] continues to flourish,” Patricia Wiedner Purcell said.

Paul Purcell said Saint Mary’s has been a huge part of his life because it is where he met Patricia.

Additionally Paul Purcell said the success of the “Faith Always, Action Now” campaign should be attributed to the many women who lead the College, especially Mooney.

“The world desperately needs places like Saint Mary’s,” Paul Purcell said. “It is a wonderful place for young women to come in an incredibly formative time of their lives and [the College] creates wonderful Christian leaders to go out and do good. We are thrilled to be a part of it.”

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

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