In a gathering of individuals who will benefit and those who have helped to begin making the dream a reality, Limestone College made vision a reality as they officially broke ground on Phase I of a $4.8 million construction project designed to dramatically improve the Saints outdoor athletic facilities over the next several years.

(See more photos of the groundbreaking at )

"Today marks the start of the much anticipated work about to begin on Phase I of the capital campaign for athletics and academics at Limestone College," said President Dr. Walt Griffin. "We are very excited to break ground on this tremendous and much needed project."

"Earlier this year, during a meeting of the Limestone College Board of Trustees, one of our members issued a challenge," added Griffin. "If $1.5 million can be raised for the athletics portion of the campaign by year's end, the trustee will kick in another $750,000. We are calling this particular fund-raising goal our Challenge For Champions and our goal is in sight. We are calling on our alumni and friends to help us reach our goal over the next several months."

As part of Phase I of Limestone's capital campaign for athletics and academics, "Today's Needs …Tomorrow's Dreams", this portion of the project will include the construction of a field house with locker rooms for its outdoor sports team as well as the installation of synthetic turf and lighting on Saints Field and a number of improvements to Bob Prevatte Field, home of the Saints baseball program.

"Imagine being a member of a national championship lacrosse team who must dress out for games in your dorm room, or even in your car", said Mike Cerino, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. "Imagine that same scenario for almost all of our outdoor athletic teams along with juggling game schedules to make it all happen in the daytime because the fields do not have lighting."

"Imagine starting a brand new football team and having no locker room and no shower facility within close proximity to the practice field," added Cerino. "You don't have to imagine it, because that's been our reality for close to 20 years. But all of that is about to change."

The new 23,000 square foot field house will include 455 lockers, with separate areas for football, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball, softball and field hockey. The building, which will connect with and sit directly behind the Limestone Center, will also include a laundry facility, equipment storage, a concessions area and restrooms for spectators as well as a ticket sales box office.

Limestone Athletics is currently the second largest NCAA Division II program in the nation based on its 25 sports (only Lindenwood with 27 has more) and has 716 student-athletes on campus. The primary locker room facilities for all of those programs are located in the Timken Center and Dr. Walt Griffin Physical Education Center. The new field house will provide a much needed expansion to those areas used by the Saints programs to prepare to win championships.

Current Limestone women's lacrosse student-athlete Jenelle Fortunato knows what it takes to win championships as she's helped her team to multiple championships without the tremendous advantages of the new facilities that are on their way.

"I am excited and honored to be a part of this moment as the Limestone community begins to transform vision into reality," stated Fortunato. "Shortly after arriving on campus in August of 2010 I began hearing about a huge renovation that was on the way. As soon as I saw the plans for the Capital Campaign, I couldn't wait. A new turf stadium, our own locker room – what more could a student-athlete want!"

"Every year students look forward to events such as Alumni Weekend and Christmas on Campus," continued Fortunato. "That's because we are able to share in the things that make Limestone, Limestone. Today we are continuing to make history and add new traditions. That's one thing I've always taken pride in as a student at Limestone College, that even though the campus has changed so much over the years, and still continues to change, we continue to hold such rich history and tradition."

Among those changes still to come that will bring about new history is a project on the upper fields that will involve the installation of state-of-the-art Field Turf at Saints Field as well as the inclusion of a lighting system.

Lights on Saints Field will not only allow for the first evening games to be played for men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer and field hockey but also for those sports to adopt flexible scheduling, allowing a large portion of the Saints student-athletes to miss much less class time with a mix of home night games.

The improvements and expansion of Bob Prevatte Field will include the construction of a 300-seat grandstand, enclosed press box, four bullpens, full batting cage facility and team storage area. Some aspects of these developments will completed in future years.

Phase I is scheduled to be completed prior to the start of the 2014-2015 athletic year in August of 2014 and will provide practice or game facilities for approximately 79-percent of Limestone's more than 700 student-athletes.

While the act of realizing the dream of these new facilities has begun, it has not happened without a great deal of support and leadership throughout the years.

"When I speak at various events and gatherings about the capital campaign and specifically about the money needed for the Limestone College Athletics Department facilities, I am often asked 'Is it just about numbers?', said Richard Baines, Chairman of the Limestone College Board of Trustees. "My response is a resounding 'Yes!' It's about the record-breaking 1,045 day students on campus, the 500 new students and the 25 sports and 716 student-athletes. It's about those kinds of numbers."

"Those numbers are made possible by friends and supporters," added Baines. "Donors who are proud of Limestone and take ownership in this College's future. With such tremendous support, we begin to write the next chapter in Limestone's great athletics history book."

The "Today's Needs… Tomorrow's Dreams" capital campaign now underway looks to raise a total of $12 million, including $6 million for a new library, $4.8 million for athletics improvements, and $1.2 million for the Limestone Fund. Those interested in donating to the capital campaign can visit

(Article by Josh Darling, Limestone College Sports Information Director)