Courtesy of the Bison

A new indoor soccer facility has recently opened up for the Harding men’s and women’s teams to use for practice after several months of delayed construction due to weather conditions.

The facility’s construction is not fully concluded, but it will include a turf field, weight room and player lounge upon its completion.

“It’s not finished, but we’re hoping in the next couple weeks that it’ll get done,” head men’s soccer coach Jon Ireland said. “But the turf area where we actually practice is done so we’re able to use that. That’s the most important part.”

In the past during inclement weather, the soccer teams had to plan around other athletic teams for use of the Ganus Activities Complex (GAC), or find other alternatives for practice due to the Stevens Soccer Complex flooding any time it would rain.

“We’re one of the only universities in the country that have their own soccer facility,” Ireland said. “It’s a dream because normally on rainy days we’re fighting with everyone else trying to get in the GAC. We’ve even had practices in our parking lot. To have a place where we can go in there anytime we want is amazing.”

Not only is the indoor facility appealing to current Harding athletes who have recently started using it, but senior forward Emma Welch said she believes the facility will attract potential recruits to the Harding soccer programs.

“I think that the addition of the indoor facility will really appeal to athletes who are considering attending Harding,” Welch said. “I know that when I heard we were getting an indoor facility, I was excited and looking forward to it being built. Being able to practice more often will benefit the team. We won’t have to worry about weather issues when it comes to practice time.”

Due to practice restrictions because of COVID-19, the soccer teams are practicing in small groups of around 10 players. The facility does not house a full-sized turf field, but Welch said it is an ideal size to accommodate practice for the smaller groups.

Construction on the facility started in fall 2019, but due to a rainy spring, building continued to be pushed back.

“It was built in a real low, wet area, and we had such a wet spring we couldn’t hardly get started,” director of Harding’s physical resources Danny DeRamus said.

Eventually the project was tackled when the physical resources department reworked the drainage system around the facility in order for the area to dry out.