Eff and Patty Martin knew a new stadium for the soccer and lacrosse teams was on the William and Mary Athletics Department’s wish list. Their daughter, Julia ’09, had spent four years on the Tribe’s lacrosse team.
But it wasn’t until the Martins had a conversation with Director of Athletics Terry Driscoll that they made a decision that will help shape the future of Tribe athletics.
“The Martins wanted to benefit the Athletic program, and Julia wanted to do something for the senior lacrosse players whom she played with,” Driscoll said.
The Martins donated the money to transform Albert-Daly Field, the current home of the lacrosse and soccer teams, into Martin Family Stadium by April 1 of next year, pending the approval of an occupancy permit. The College announced in May its official commitment to the Martin donation to fully fund the stadium.
The Martins are not strangers to the athletic department, especially to the Tribe athletics family. They began contributing through restricted funds after their daughter Julia was recruited by the lacrosse team.
The donation to fund Martin Family Stadium, however, was unrestricted because of its contribution to multiple sports and the William and Mary Athletic Department as a whole.
“What impressed the Martins about the College’s athletes is that they were not only athletes,” Driscoll said. “The high graduation rate and the high qualifications in order to be an athlete here made them want to contribute. Also, they loved how our coaches are not just coaches, but teachers.”
Regular attendance at their daughter’s games and other team functions acquainted the Martins well with the lacrosse team’s players and coaches.
“My parents really threw themselves into that community of the other parents and the kids and really invested a lot of time into it,” Julia said. “After four years here, even after a year of me sitting on the bench and watching on the sideline and them from the stands, I think they fell in love with the Tribe lacrosse family and the culture that’s here. [For me] to be able to play at the collegiate level, I think [Eff] was just chomping at the bit to take any team and throw himself into it.”
As a senior, Julia co-captained a squad that set a school record for conference wins, while also winning a Colonial Athletic Association title. She graduated with a degree in kinesiology and an art minor, and now works as an assistant media relations director for photography and multimedia production in the College’s Athletic Department.
“As a lacrosse alumni, I’m stoked that [the team has] the chance to play in a great new facility, and I’m excited that they’ll get to play in something that reflects more of where the soccer and lacrosse teams continue to be headed,” she said. “As an employee of the Athletic Department, it’s a little bit of a notch on our belt to show that we are a legitimate Division I 23- sport athletic program that deserves all the recognition it gets, or doesn’t get.”
The new stadium will get plenty of recognition thanks to a multitude of new features. What is now a six-year-old field with aluminum bleachers will become a state-of-the-art playing field, complete with stadium seating, press boxes, restroom facilities and team buildings. What is more, the stadium’s bleachers will be able to seat 1,000 fans.
Equipped with internet connections in the press boxes, locker room showers, enclosed team meeting rooms, heating and air conditioning, food and other provisional amenities for fans, the Martin Family stadium will be a major upgrade for Albert-Daly Field, Driscoll said.
“This stadium will be one of the nicest soccer stadiums at our level of conference and a great asset to fans,” he said. “We want to have men’s soccer championships and the ability for a tournament, not just single games. This stadium will make that a greater possibility. Right now, we usually have three championship games a year.”
According to Driscoll, this high-quality playing surface will be instrumental in not only landing more home games and tournaments, but also recruiting potential players.
Since the Athletic Department relies predominately on private funds, top conditions in playing facilities are indications to recruited athletes of how much the Athletic Department means to the College’s community. When the stadium opens next spring, its unique qualities will prove just that.
“A lot of people don’t give a ton of credit to the William and Mary athletics program, because we do so much with so little,” Julia said. “When we get opportunities to have generous gifts by donors — to make better facilities, to get more equipment, better uniforms — we get to take a flight to be able to fly instead of driving nine hours on a bus. It gives homage to those who have come before and what the athletic department is made of.”
Staff Writer Emily Mamula contributed to this story