Grace College's (L-R) Randy Kleinhans, Jim Swanson, Bill Katip, Drew Flamm, Tom Dunn and Chad Briscoe pose for a photo at the school’s upgraded soccer facility at Miller Athletic Complex. The Lancers and Lady Lancers will play night games in Winona Lake for the first time in program history Friday. Photo by Josh Neuhart
Grace College's (L-R) Randy Kleinhans, Jim Swanson, Bill Katip, Drew Flamm, Tom Dunn and Chad Briscoe pose for a photo at the school’s upgraded soccer facility at Miller Athletic Complex. The Lancers and Lady Lancers will play night games in Winona Lake for the first time in program history Friday. Photo by Josh Neuhart
WINONA LAKE – The year was 1972, as the story goes, and a number of Grace College students were on their hands and knees picking rocks up off the ground at a recently donated piece of land.
That piece of land became both an athletic field and a memorial to Grace Brethren evangelist Rev. R. Paul Miller Sr., whose family donated the funds to develop it.
Forty-plus years later, the land still hosts Grace College athletic events and bears the name Miller Athletic Complex.
Friday night, at the soccer portion of the complex – the complex also has baseball and softball diamonds, tennis courts and a cross country course – expansive upgrades will be unveiled.
There are new dugouts, a large pressbox, new fencing ... and for the first time, there are lights.
Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams will play exhibition matches Friday, as the Lancers will host FC Indiana at 7 p.m. and the Lady Lancers will entertain the Haitian Women’s National Team at 9 p.m.
“We’re truly blessed,” said Grace College President Dr. Bill Katip. “Being able to play under the lights now is very exciting, and it will provide a great college soccer feel. A facility like this will also help with recruititing.”
Jim Swanson, Vice President of Academic Services, called the project a “major facelift.”
According to those that were present for a photo shoot earlier this week, a group that also included Athletic Director Chad Briscoe and faculty members Tom Dunn, Drew Flamm and Randy Kleinhans, the soccer field project will cost approximately $500,000.
Grace College was given a gift of $350,000 from a private donor.
“A private donor saw the need and graciously stepped forward,” said Briscoe. “We’re very blessed and very thankful. This catapults us to the top of the conference in terms of soccer facilities.”
Grace College already has the nicest basketball facility in the Crossroads League – or of any small college in the country, for that matter – with the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.
Now the soccer field, located on Kings Highway, is on the same level.
“This totally changes things,” said Briscoe. “Like Dr. Katip said, this will definitely help with recruiting. It’s a facility the community can be proud of. We want soccer fans in our community to come out and enjoy a great atmosphere. We want soccer players in our local schools to know that Grace College is a great option. They don’t have to go away for college. We have great facilities and coaching right here in our community.”
Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday, and there will be a tailgate dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
There will also be live music from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the first 100 fans will receive a free team poster.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Kids 6 and under will be admitted free.
Any child – accompanied by an adult – wearing a soccer jersey of any team will be admitted free.