HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Centenary University broke ground Friday on a new baseball complex. Dubbed Our Diamond of Dreams, the project will provide a home field for the Cyclone baseball team, the University’s largest NCAA Division III sport, which currently has no home field near campus. The complex will also be available for use by local recreational leagues and high schools, including Hackettstown High School.
The field will be located at the southeast corner of Centenary’s campus near the intersection of Reese Ave and Fifth Ave. the state-of-the-art facility will include amenities such as a turf field, grandstands with stadium seating, an entry archway, a new scoreboard, and on-campus parking, as well as new dugouts and bullpens.
Our Diamond of Dreams is funded through a generous lead gift from Steve and Sharon Somers and a challenge grant from the Reeves Foundation. The project was also funded by a grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, which recognized the opportunities the complex can provide for local youth baseball and softball organizations. Numerous individual and corporate donors also contributed to the project.
The community connection was especially important to Centenary President David P. Haney, who has emphasized strengthening the relationship between Centenary and the local community since arriving at the University more than two years ago. “This athletic complex will finally provide our student-athletes with the home field advantage they deserve,” Haney said. “It also adds tremendous value to our community, providing a beautiful new space for use by local youth baseball teams.”
Somers recalled that as a high school baseball player, he stole home 18 times. “Baseball, for me, was the inspiration,” he said. “It’s my dream to inspire a Hackettstown High School student, a Centenary University student to go out on the field and get their confidence and inspiration, and ultimately to come to the realization that the greatest thing in life is doing what other people say you can’t do.”
Steven B. Kalafer, a generous donor to the project, noted that Somers’ gift has raised the profile of the University. “We both want to do the same thing. We want to give back,” Kalafer said. “We’re telling the current story of Centenary University. It’s a great school, but maybe people haven’t looked at Centenary the way they should. Well, guess what? People are looking at us now.”
Baseball Coach Scott Kushner pointed out the new field’s value as a recruiting tool for the University. “This field will fundamentally change everything about our baseball program,” said Kushner. “We will be more attractive to high-caliber recruits, better equipped to develop the skills of our current players, and able to more easily balance the academic demands of our student-athletes. More than anything, it will help energize and enhance the campus culture because it will provide us with what we have sought for so long—a true home to showcase the efforts and talents of our Cyclones.”
The Diamond of Dreams will also create new experiential learning opportunities for Centenary’s sports management, business, and communication, writing, and design majors.