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Archive for October 1, 2017

Oct. 1, 2017 — Close quarters

This fall, there is some immense construction going on at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina. No fewer than 10 projects are currently going on, according to a list published on the university’s website.

Athletic facilities are also receiving a major overhaul. An enormous indoor practice facility is being built, with Fetzer Field being turned into a soccer and lacrosse stadium. In addition, the new water-based turf called Ehringhaus Field will be ready for the opening of the 2018 season.

Until then, the soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams at UNC have had to find places to play. This fall, the soccer teams have been playing at WakeMed Soccer Park, a soccer-specific facility that is the home for North Carolina FC of the NASL and North Carolina Courage of the NWSL.

The Carolina field hockey team, ranked No. 1 in the preseason, has been obligated to play its home fixtures at its great rival, Duke University, located about six miles down Tobacco Road from Chapel Hill.

Though the schools, alumni/ae, and teams are often bitter rivals, the fact that UNC is playing its home matches at Duke is an expression of collegiality between a pair of coaches who played for the United States on the world stage. Karen Shelton is one of only a handful of members of the 1984 Olympic Team still coaching, and has been a tremendous servant of UNC. Duke’s head coach is Pam Bustin, who represented the United States in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Their shared experiences, both inside and outside the coaching box, has led to this arrangement, and is making Durham a weekly mecca for good field hockey.

Of course, other sharing arrangements have been part of the game in the last couple of decades. American University used to play its field hockey games at the University of Maryland while its water-based turf was made ready. Georgetown University also played some home games at Maryland and at American after their rooftop turf was deemed to be unsafe a few years back.

And, of course, there was the sharing arrangements that made the courts. The University of California had no home ground for several years, forcing the Bears to play their home games at their rival, Stanford. That led to a Title IX suit and a finding that the university discriminated against its women athletes, not just the field hockey players.

Fortunately, the UNC-Duke arrangement hasn’t led to jurisprudence.

 

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