Jake Farrant walked every day to the Ottawa University football practice field located to the south and east of the main campus along 11th Street.
Farrant played football for the Braves during the 2001-03 seasons and was a member of the 2003 KCAC championship squad. The football practice field was called “The Swamp” and for good reason. Since then, the baseball and softball fields were constructed on the old practice site and the adjacent grass soccer field has been used as a practice facility.
Ottawa University officials announced Thursday the Peters Sports Complex is getting a makeover. The baseball, softball and the old soccer field will soon have turf surfaces. OU hired Farrant’s company, Kansas Turf/Mammoth Sports Construction, for the project.
“When we heard about this opportunity, we jumped all over it,” Farrant said. “That is old stomping grounds. We have a lot of people in our company associated with Ottawa. This is exciting. For the NAIA level, this is going to better than most NCAA Division II facilities.”
OU director of athletics Arabie Conner said this project will be something to behold.
“You are going to have an awesome product to play on this spring," Conner told the softball and baseball players. “No more tarp. It is going to transform the Peters Sports Complex into a state-of-the art complex. We will have a great venue down there.”
Jay Kahnt, OU softball coach, said the project is important for many reasons.
“It is a big deal for our players, a big thing for our program and a huge deal for our school,” Kahnt said. “Our girls are so excited. To see their expressions was priceless. That will motivate them the rest of this semester. This will do nothing but help both our programs. It will help football and soccer recruiting too. They don’t have to use grass (fields anymore). We have the best home fields in our conference. This definitely separates us.”
Conner said the plan is to have the turf fields ready for the 2020 seasons. She said the first home game is Feb. 1, 2020.
“We need some help from the weather,” Farrant said. “If we have 8 to 12 perfect weeks, we can get in there. We will be going up against game time to put the finishing touches on it.”
Conner said adding the turf fields will alleviate the strain on the football field.
“This will give us a lot of different options from a practice standpoint,” she said. “Everybody is always vying for the turf field (at AdventHealth Field), but they have to take their turn on the grass. The way we have grown has put extra strain on our facilities. We have a lot of teams that need turf facilities. It has become tougher and tougher to maintain those (grass) fields down there.”
Kahnt said adding turf to the multi-purpose field will be a big boon to the every athletic squad.
“It will allow more teams to practice (on turf) so they don’t have to be here at 8 p.m. or later,” Kahnt said. “It will allow for so many more things. There will be so many different sports that can go out there and utilize that. It allows the baseball and softball teams to split our teams and do different things. It benefits 80 percent of the (students) on our campus.”
The winningest OU coach in school history said this announcement was a huge surprise to the athletes.
“Every kid erupted with excitement,” Kahnt said. “We will be able to see it constructed from start to finish. The improvements being made on this campus in the last 5 to 7 years are breathtaking.”
Farrant said this project is special because OU is home.
“I will make the trip a lot and be here on site (during construction),” he said. “Seeing the same faces, it hits home. This is not even close to the same campus. It is going to be a great thing for the university.”