CEDAR BLUFF, VA — Officials with Southwest Virginia Community College (Southwest), coaches and members of the Flying Eagles Softball team, as well as several community members attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the College’s new softball field.
Southwest President Dr. Tommy Wright said that the groundbreaking was only the beginning of legacies that will be built. “This is a huge day for women’s athletics,” Dr. Wright said, “we look forward to bringing our community together on this field in support of our student athletes.”
Teammates, Hailey Byington and Courtney Hess said they were both looking forward to having a field to call home, to know that they have a set place to practice every day. They are also excited to have a place for friends and family to come watch their games.
Opening day is scheduled for February 25, 2022, with two games; the first game is at 1:00 pm against Florence-Darlington Technical College and the second game is at 3:00 pm.
Jason Vencill, Athletic Director at Southwest, had this to say, “I’m excited to have the field here, on campus, allowing our student athletes, faculty, and staff the opportunity to attend games with greater ease.“
Funding for the $430,000 softball field came through the Southwest Virginia Community College Educational Foundation Inc. from multiple sources. Chris Lewis, VP of Finance and Administrative Services, said “it has been a year’s worth of planning and we’re excited to see this project come to fruition.”
Head Softball Coach, Amy Smith, a Southwest alum, said that she is excited to have a home field for recruiting and a place for the team to call home. Assistant Coach, Runie Mensche, said he is excited to be at the right place at the right time and is looking forward to making memories and history on the field. There are currently 11 student-athletes committed to playing in the Spring 2022 season.
“Students who are engaged in activities are more successful in their college and professional careers,” said Robert Brandon, VP of Academic and Student Services. “We’re excited to give students the opportunity to pursue their passion while they pursue their education because that will make a difference in their lives.”
In support of and in collaboration with Southwest Athletics, the college’s Workforce & Continuing Education division’s Heavy Equipment Operator students had the opportunity to gain real-life experience and help lay the groundwork for the new softball field. This project spanned over their last two cohorts and involved assistance from eight students. John Mullins, Director of Workforce Programs, said, “These students had the opportunity to clear and level the ground, perform reclamation, and prepare the surface for construction to begin. As a result of the training these students received, many have already entered the workforce and are on their way to a rewarding career.”
The general contractor, Darrin Morrison with Ken Construction Company said that physical construction started in the last week of October. The softball field and dugouts are expected to be completed by the end of February 2022. Richard Bailey with Bailey Engineering spoke highly of the chosen location of the field saying, “the spot was nearly level” which reduced the engineering challenge.
Southwest Athletics has 14 NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) sports teams and five non-NJCAA sports teams, you can learn more about these on their website swccsports.com
Southwest Continuing Education provides fast-track and hands on learning in high-demand fields like Heavy Equipment Operator, Commercial Driver’s License, and many more. Learn more at sw.edu/workforce
Naming opportunities for Southwest Athletics fields are available through the Southwest Virginia Community College Educational Foundation office. Contact Susan Lowe at 276.964.7304 or learn more about how you can contribute to the Building Legacies Campaign at sw.edu/edfoundation
About Southwest Virginia Community College (Southwest): Established in 1967, Southwest Virginia Community College is a two-year institution of higher education serving primarily the residents of the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson (partial), Russell and Tazewell. Offering more than 80 programs of study, Southwest has served more than 109,000 students since opening. In addition to credit-based programs, Southwest offers fast-track training and industry recognized credentials. For more information, please visit http://www.sw.edu
About Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS): Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 241,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.