by Nicole Greco
The Centenary Cyclones are getting a home of its own and plans to welcome student athletes of all ages in Hackettstown. Construction of a new baseball complex, called Our Diamond of Dreams, is under way and will benefit the university’s baseball team as well as local recreation leagues and Hackettstown High School.
The state-of-the-art complex will include a turn field, grandstands with stadium seating, an entry archway, new dugouts and bullpens as well as on-campus parking.
“Having a baseball stadium at Centenary University is just another example of how Centenary draws people to Hackettstown…this is a win-win for all,” said Hackettstown Mayor Maria DiGiovanni.
It’s a project that Cyclone’s coach Scott Kushner has been eager to undertake for a decade. In the fall of 2016 Kushner and Centenary President David P. Haney began to move the project forward in earnest.
“The field solves a number of our existing issues while opening up some tremendous opportunities for the program, campus and community to grow,” said Kushner.
This initiative was funded solely through donations.
“Fortunately I met Steve Somers, a successful business man and Hackettstown resident whose passion for baseball is only matched by his philanthropic spirit,” said Kushner, “He shared my vision for what such a field could mean to the University and the community and so he and his wife, Sharon, got on board as our lead donors just before Thanksgiving 2016.”
With support from John Johnson, a $250,000 Challenge Grant from the Reeves Foundation, Mark Avondolio of Perona Farms, Steve Kalafer, owner of the Somerset Patriots, and Major League Baseball’s Tomorrow Fund, the official groundbreaking for Our Diamond of Dreams took place in late October.
Despite lacking an official home stadium, there have been a number of notable Cyclones. Kushner says Our Diamond of Dreams is a way of moving forward while giving back.
“Over the years my program has benefitted from the generosity of our community,” he said. “Years ago we would practice in the fall at the Hackettstown High School Field; now we occasionally practice at Riverfront Park or on the high school’s turf field. Centenary’s new baseball complex “gives us a chance to return those favors. Coach Poyer at the high school will have regular access to the field when it’s not in use by Centenary, we will collaborate on our schedules during April, while our seasons overlap, but most of May will be entirely theirs.”
He continued, “I’m also eager to get younger ballplayers from our local recreations leagues on the field as well- whether games, practices, camps or clinics- Our Diamond of Dreams will be a perfect place to learn and love the game of baseball.”