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On June 16, elected officials joined staff and students of Queens College for a groundbreaking ceremony for the college soccer field and track renovation project. The $ 9.3 million modernization of the outdoor sports facility began in January 2021 and is expected to be completed in early 2022.
The project is funded with support from New York State and New York City through the efforts of Queens College Athletic Director Robert Twible, Queens College Student Association President Zaire Couloute, Queens College President Donovan Richards, Queens College President Frank H. Wu, City Councilor Francisco. Moya and James Gennaro, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, MP Nily Rozic, Special Taxpayer Protection Advocate Rory Lancman, Chancellor of CUNY Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and student-athlete from Queens College Shannon Gibbons.
Queens College Knights defenseman Brian Gray was “extremely excited” by the opening.
“This grass pitch will definitely be a great addition to the team and to the school for sure,” he said. “We like to pass the ball, so having a grass pitch, you know, a consistent pitch, will definitely help us a lot in our game, that’s for sure.”
Knights midfielder Leo Pinto said playing on the old pitch was tough but the team tried to make the most of it.
“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to be on the pitch with new teammates and a new atmosphere,” said the rising junior.
Queens College President Frank H. Wu, who moderated the event, acknowledged that the past year had been filled with challenges, especially for the student-athletes, who were eager to get back to training and to the competition.
He called the inauguration, which took place a day after Governor Cuomo lifted most COVID-19 restrictions statewide, a “new beginning, filled with hope and anticipation.”
“Football is the sport of the world, and we are in the ‘World’s Borough’,” Wu said, adding that the new football pitch and track would make the student-athletes “feel like professionals when they will set foot on ground of this quality. “
CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez stressed that the investment in the new land and the new track was also an investment in the community, as the college hosts the school championships of the Public and Catholic Diocese of New York and Special Olympics events.
“Every dollar, every dollar of capital you invest in CUNY has this incredible multiplier effect,” Rodríguez said.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said the groundbreaking ceremony was not only about the new football pitch or track, but also providing students with first-class sports equipment.
“We do not play supporting roles compared to other boroughs. In Queens County, we want every CUNY campus to have everything state-of-the-art, ”said Richards. “And that’s one of the reasons we announced $ 4.5 million for CUNY institutions in the borough a few weeks ago, and that’s just the start of what we’re going to do. “
Councilor Fransisco Moya shared his love for football with the crowd and said the lack of suitable pitches in Queens had prompted him to seek funding for the renovation.
Moya said football is “the only thing people have in common.”
“It will really be the way to bring people back to a certain sense of normalcy, but in a way that the terrain under the conditions will not hurt its athletes, and it will be open to everyone,” he said. added.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, the first woman to chair the Senate Higher Education Committee, proudly shared that the state has provided $ 100 million to CUNY and $ 1 million to tackle the problems mental health.
“Our initial Senate request was $ 4 million because we recognize that these times are difficult and everyone must work together, including administration and faculty and lawmakers, be they municipal, state. or federal, ”Stavisky said.
Queens College Athletic Director Robert Twible proudly announced that Queens College student-athletes have a GPA of over 3.3 and that three of the college’s athletic teams have qualified for the playoffs in the conference, two of which traveled to the NCAA tournament.
For Twible, the ceremony was bigger than a football pitch or a new track.
“It brings us hope, highlights our ability to work together in these difficult times for the good of our students and our community,” he said.
He stressed that the improvements would benefit not only the football and track teams, but also the school’s NCAA Division II athletes, who use the facilities for games, conditioning and specific training at the school. sport.
“It will also help us with our larger community in Queens. Track and Field has been running a summer camp for over 30 years with thousands of children playing and learning sports on these fields, ”said Twible.
Shannon Gibbons, a senior Queens College football player and former American Idol contestant, said the less than stellar conditions on the football field sometimes worked to the advantage of the team.
Gibbons, who called the new football pitch a “blessing,” joked about the old pitch, saying: “There’s a lot of clods on the pitch and a lot of dirt. Sometimes teams would come in here and really didn’t know how to handle this, but we certainly did. “