SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Doerr Family Field has drawn lots of praise from Cal Poly football players following the conclusion of the four-week 2018 Spring Camp.
"It has changed the whole energy of practice," said senior fullback Joe Protheroe.
"Definitely helps the team's confidence, not having to walk all the way out there," added senior punter Casey Sublette.
"Obviously saves a lot of time," said junior wide receiver J.J. Koski. "When I was a freshman, I had to walk a couple times when I couldn't get a ride. It's so much better now. With my ankles taped, it was a 20-minute walk to the old practice field. Huge difference today."
"It's a state-of-the-art facility," added senior quarterback Khaleel Jenkins.
"It's amazing. It has really motivated the guys a lot," chimed in senior offensive lineman Harry Whitson.
Doerr Family Field, named in honor of primary benefactors Richard A. and Kathleen M. Doerr and located on the site of the former "I Field" adjacent to the Steve Miller and John Capriotti Athletics Complex, was officially dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 2.
During Spring Camp in April, the Mustang football team conducted 14 practice sessions, including a pair of 11-on-11 scrimmages, on the new facility, which features a state-of-the-art 140-yard synthetic-turf practice field, allowing room for football sled work, along with goalposts, lights, a flagpole and a scoreboard. A pair of filming towers and Cal Poly branding are still to come.
The field is the primary practice facility for Mustang football and also is being used by other teams. For the past eight years, Cal Poly football players dressed in full gear have walked, biked or driven their cars a mile across campus to the upper fields of the Cal Poly Sports Complex for practice. No more.
"It's incredible," senior linebacker Anders Turner said of the facility. "The time saved in the early morning hours walking from our locker room out to the old practice field, it's pretty incredible.
"This is my fifth season and it's a big step up from the drive out there," Turner added. "When my bike broke, I had to walk a few times and I was late to practice or late to class. I don't have to worry about that any more."
Added Protheroe, "It's colder at the old practice field and you had to get there early to get a good parking spot. Doerr Family Field has provided a spark to everybody on the team. Everybody loves the new field."
"This is something we have waited for for a long time," said Sublette, "and it gives us the feeling of having a Division I-type facility."
Many of the players also praised the new surface.
"It feels like walking on clouds," said Protheroe. "It is so soft. It feels better when you can dig in your cleats."
"The turf is way nicer," added Koski. "The other field is very old. The turf at Doerr is way more cushiony, softer on the knees."
"It's way better," said Whitson. "The new field is softer. At the old field, the turf got flat and the black pellets were gone."
"The turf is real nice, feels very responsive," added Jenkins. "It's good on the joints. The energy feels different, there was great energy in Spring Camp and it feels more relevant."
The $4.8 million facility is the product of the collaborative efforts of Cal Poly Athletics, Cal Poly Corporation, Cal Poly Housing and Associated Students, Inc.
"This was the best spring ball ever in my five years here," said Whitson. "The new field motivated us and gave us a lot more energy."
Richard A. Doerr is a member of the Cal Poly Foundation Board of Directors. He received a bachelor's degree in physical education from Cal Poly in 1966 and played football for the Mustangs from 1964-66.
Cal Poly opens Fall Camp on August 3, beginning preparation for the 2018 season opener Sept. 1 at six-time Football Championship Subdivision national champion North Dakota State.