The Outsider of Simpson Athletics
By Ariana West
Imagine having to pick up needles left by the homeless everyday before practice. This is reality for the Simpson Baseball Team. Despite being one of the oldest teams here on campus, and an official NAIA team for twenty years, they are just now making some real progress on building their own field. Currently, the team has their home games at Tiger Field in downtown Redding. Going to this field, you will see lots of homeless people and possibly some heroin needles. According to Head Coach Dan Tating, when leaving the field at night, it is not unusual for homeless people to yell or even throw things. Last year, not only did the team have games at Tiger Field but practices as well. Coach Tating explained that another downfall of having to practice off-campus was having to be creative with practice times in order to get everyone over there at the same time. It was also common for players to miss dinner almost every night because of having to practice off campus. Senior infielder Chris Brue mentions that getting over to Tiger is very inconvenient, and for those without cars, finding a ride can cause added stress for players.
This year, the school did not pay the rent money for the team to continue to practice at Tiger field, so they have been practicing on campus despite having very limited facilities. The on campus field is lacking a backstop, outfield fences, dugouts, and field lights. Basically the team is playing on a grass field with a pitcher's mound. If the team would like to practice after sundown, their only source of light, is generator powered construction lights which the team had to acquire on their own. Unlike the other teams on campus, the baseball team and team staff do all their own field maintenance. Every other field such as; the soccer and softball fields, are maintained by Simpson facilities.
A high priority of Simpson this year is to increase student enrollment. “With the biggest roster on campus,” Coach Tating stated, “we are increasing enrollment more than any other team.” Yet they are treated like an outsider of Simpson Athletics. Senior Chris Brue also explained that, “The team does not get enough attention, despite the immense growth of the program over the last couple years.” Tating and Brue both agreed that it is hard to recruit quality players for this program when the facilities are lacking.
The team has had to get creative and has begun raising their own funds to build themselves a field. Their most recent fundraiser was a silent auction dinner where guests were served a meal by the team and got to listen to MLB star Michael Lorenzen speak. Coach Tating said that the dinner was very successful and they raised about $13,000 which he thinks will be enough for a backstop if he can get the labor donated. In order for the field to be game ready, Tating thinks they will need around $200,000. While this may seem like a lot of money, the team is hopeful that they will have a field up and running fairly soon.