An inside look: What goes into a home weekend?

Payton Ahola and Marit Hoyem

The men’s and women’s varsity soccer teams both played against Amherst at Cole Field this past weekend. (Photo courtesy of the Athletic Department.)

This past weekend, seven of the College’s fall varsity teams — men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, football, field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country — and two of the College’s club ultimate frisbee teams all competed at home. Hosting this many sporting events was no easy feat: Executing a home weekend requires hours of planning from a wide range of Operations & Maintenance staff, as well as administrators in the athletic department.

For Nate Cariddi, grounds foreperson at the College, work for this home weekend competition started last Monday. “[At] the beginning of the week, our soccer fields need to be striped correctly,” Cariddi told the Record. “Same thing with our turf, [which] we groom twice a week.”

During the fall season, besides maintaining the turf fields at the Weston Athletic Complex and the grass on Cole Field, Cariddi and his grounds crew also care for the tennis courts, the cross country trail at Mount Greylock High School, and the home golf courses at Taconic Golf Club.

For Gillian McDonald, assistant athletic director for facilities and game management, the scheduling and preparation for the home competitions began much earlier than last week. “A lot of the preparation for a weekend like this (or any other fall home events) happens in the summer,” McDonald wrote to the Record. “I have a master calendar of all the home games, and work on filling in all my student staff before everyone gets back on campus.”

McDonald also receives help from many of the students on campus to ensure multiple home competitions are able to run simultaneously. “I hire and train the student workers (filmers, [announcers], ball people, scoreboard, and clock folks) and serve as the liaison with Campus Safety [Services] to make sure we have officer coverage and help with parking,” McDonald wrote. “I have a great crew of student workers and game managers that I trust to run their venues, so I know that if I can’t stop by [each event], that they are trained and capable of running their event.”

In addition to McDonald’s and Cariddi’s preparations, Coordinator of Scheduling and Team Travel Jacqueline Lemaire is responsible for corresponding with officials and bringing them in for home competitions. “[I give] coaches a deadline of when their tentative schedule should be submitted, and then those schedules go through arbitersports. com, which is where we are able to go through all of the avenues and companies of who finds officials,” Lemaire wrote to the Record.

Since preparation for a weekend of home competition begins long before athletes arrive on campus for the fall, staff and administrators have to plan ahead to ensure the weekend goes smoothly. But according to Cariddi, the winter and spring seasons are more difficult to prepare for because of the demanding, more volatile weather conditions.

“In the Berkshires, we can get a foot of snow on March 30,” he said. “There’s been times where I have had to blow snow off the baseball and softball fields, and they play a game a couple of days later.” During these seasons, Cariddi and his crew are responsible for maintaining the ice at the Lansing-Chapman rink, ski trails and courses at Taconic Golf Club and Jiminy Peak, the equipment and track at Towne Field House, and the baseball and softball fields.

Despite these challenges, Cariddi also expressed pride in his work and his staff. “I like to show off our fields down at Cole,” he said. “I think we have the best fields in the conference, and we have a great facility up at Weston.”

McDonald also emphasized her gratitude for all the staff who are essential to making a home weekend possible. “We are so lucky at Williams to have an amazing team of people to help put on all these home events,” she wrote. “From athletic grounds who set up and break down all the fields, scoreboards, [and] outdoor equipment; to our custodial team that sets up and breaks down for the indoor sports like volleyball; to the game managers, student workers, equipment room, athletic trainers and sports info staff. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that take a lot of pride in giving our student-athletes the best possible experience!”