Marley Bramsway & Lexan Coleman / Full360 Digital Media Producers
Plenty of open fields of grass stretch across campus beyond the train tracks, yet Delaware Valley University sports teams battle for spots to hold practices. Tennis courts sit unused by students, and weight rooms are crowded.
With a shortage of playable athletic fields, many athletes question why the space is unused and why the wide swath of grass is deemed “unplayable.”
In a recent interview about unused fields, David Duda, Delaware Valley University’s Athletic Director, explained the ins and outs of his hope to create more athletic facilities to benefit the university’s athletes and the current conditions of the current facilities.
Delaware Valley University’s athletes do not use the open field spaces behind the train tracks that remain in unplayable conditions. Duda said fall coaches – Field Hockey and Soccer – could play on those vacant fields, but they would rather play on turf to mimic the style used in competition, Duda said.
The two sports also require different grass lengths, he said. Field hockey and soccer require different lengths of grass making it difficult to maintain the two levels of grass needed to play successfully. Jeff Brown, the Head of Facilities, recently hired a maintenance of athletic fields director, who is the first to hold this title at the university. This will, he hopes, facilitate the issue behind the unused grass fields throughout unprioritized seasons.
David Duda’s plan to build new turf facilities was unsuccessful, and the bar that was set for the donor fund was not met.
The project in mind was to put turf in the softball and baseball outfields and then use the outfields for additional soccer and field hockey facilities. This is common throughout other universities in the conference, but once presented the donor had committed the amount due and it wasn’t enough to pursue this project. The locker rooms were the next project that was reasonable with the given price by the donor.
Duda said athletic facilities are a big part of the University’s strategic plan.
“That’s probably the number one thing I’ve pushed since I’ve been here is that we need not only another turf facility, but I would prefer something that also had lights cause just giving us another turf facility wouldn’t be a facility we can’t use with daylight savings.”
Duda’s goal is to have a facility for every sports team, although he believes it would be hard to maintain it. With enough funding, it could be done, he said. These types of things aren’t funded by institutional dollars, rather they are funded through private donors.
Due to inspection requirements, the University was required to redo the turf facility, where football games are played.
Every year turf fields must pass inspection. These fields last between 7-10 years, 10 being on the higher end of the scale. This timeline becomes shorter when you have a field like Delaware Valley University’s fields, which is constantly being used. Delaware Valley University’s field wouldn’t have passed inspection, so it wasn’t a choice for Facility directors to have the field redone.
Duda understands that Student Athletes want more fields but its not always a choice.
“Not only can you prioritize, but in this case, there was no choice, that field wouldn’t have passed inspection because it passed its life expectancy.”
The next facility in question is Delaware Valley’s Tennis facility. The university’s men’s and women’s tennis teams were disbanded in 2020. A survey goes out every year to acquire information on the student’s life interests.
For multiple years, no recruits displayed interest, and the expense to maintain tennis courts is costly. Delaware Valley’s tennis facilities get used more frequently by the community rather than by students, therefore the Facility is no longer under the control of Delaware Valley Athletics. Duda is responsible for NCA-sponsored sports; due to the court’s vacancy, it is no longer an NCA-sponsored sport.
In the transition of the new weight room equipment, the old machines were stored on campus in his hopes to create an auxiliary weight room facility. David Duda has looked at a multitude of spaces on campus, it’s just a question of where he can put the equipment. It’s a struggle for space, sound, and permits that are required by both New Britain and Doylestown townships. Then, it requires financial backing.
To build a facility across the train tracks in lot E there would be tricky, Duda says. There is no electricity, internet access, or water on the other side of the tracks, making creating a new facility hard. Down the campus center is a line dividing the two burrows, Doylestown and New Britain. To get facility changes, university officials must get approval from two different local governing agencies.
David Duda said he understands the frustrations.
“If I were a student-athlete, and I was, regardless of where the school is, you always say well, ‘why can’t I have that?’ I get it, I understand it, but I just try to supply the answers that it’s just not as easy and simple to say, ‘hey let’s knock this building down.’”
But with 487 of DelVal’s students being athletes, he hopes the changes and improvements will be more of a priority.