Carthage fundraising push targets new softball field
Propelled by some significant starter funding, Carthage is moving ahead with plans to dramatically upgrade its varsity softball field.
The initial financial commitment includes $1 million from the College and $250,000 from longtime supporters Glenn and Barbara Madrigrano. Carthage has begun fundraising for an additional $500,000, aiming to have the first phase of construction complete in time for the 2023 season.
Nate Stewart, director of athletics, says the much-needed project reflects a strong commitment to women’s athletics. More than one-third of Carthage’s undergraduate students compete in 28 varsity sports, which include 14 women’s teams and a coed esports team.
“For too long, our softball program has had to do more with less,” he says. “We owe it to present and future student-athletes — plus our loyal alumni and fans — to raise that stadium to the level of the other home athletic facilities here at Carthage, which rival the best in NCAA Division III.”
Back to championship-caliber
The field should greatly improve both the on-field and spectator experience while making Carthage eligible to host national and conference postseason tournaments. The existing softball field has gradually dipped below the standard since opening in 1998.
Crews will replace the natural grass with synthetic turf, enabling the Firebirds to practice and play reliably when weather conditions fluctuate. Plans for the stadium also feature bullpens and batting cages, as well as upgrades to the dugouts, scoreboard, and sound system.
“We are incredibly grateful to Glenn and Barbara Madrigrano, whose generosity was critical in getting the ball rolling,” says Thomas Kline, vice president for institutional advancement. “We look forward to working with our entire community to raise the necessary funds to see this project through so our young women can compete on a field that matches their level of play.”
The couple have given extensively to Carthage Athletics, and an endowment for the baseball program is named in their honor. Mr. Madrigrano and his son Glenn Jr. ’96 are both executives at C.J.W. Inc., a leading beverage distributor.
Bleachers, a press box, and other amenities could be added in future phases. The College is offering a variety of potential naming opportunities for interested donors.
The fundraising campaign will highlight the accomplishments of Amy Gillmore ’94, M.Ed. ’04, who enters her 25th season as head softball coach. A standout shortstop in her playing days at Carthage, Coach Gillmore has guided the team to 20 winning seasons, four CCIW regular season championships, and five NCAA Division III tournament berths since taking over in 1997.
“Barbara and I are elated to hear this project is moving forward,” says Glenn Madrigrano. “We were inspired by Amy’s passion for the program and look forward to helping her and her players continue to succeed.”
Alumni of the program rave about the lasting impact it’s had on their lives.
“I remember the feeling of pride and the overwhelming amount of support from fellow students, friends, and family who lined the hill by right field to watch us play,” says Teri Green ’00. “We set the bar high in those years and have proudly watched those who followed in our footsteps add more championship banners.”
Meghan Roman ’11 has paid the lessons forward as a longtime softball coach and now interim athletic director at Illinois College.
“Playing softball at Carthage is the best decision I ever made,” she says. “Not only did I get a great education as a Carthaginian, I also met lifelong friends, found my passion in life, and, above all else, was molded into the woman I am today.”
Construction on the field is likely to begin next summer. Although it will remain at the northwest corner of the campus, plans show a slight change in the field’s orientation. Home plate will be positioned roughly where the left field foul pole is now.
Anyone who would like more information about the softball field project can contact Thomas Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.