Watts rewards Softball with new locker rooms

Featured Image: Site preparation for the new softball locker rooms and public restrooms is underway at the Tom and Betty Broyles Field at TowneBank Park. Josh Heller | Marlin Chronicle

The new softball facility will be situated towards the entrance of the field and named the D. Henry and Eleanor Watts Field House.

The Virginia Wesleyan Softball team recently started to undergo a gratifying change as evidenced by their new locker room. The completion date is set for the end of the Spring 2023 season into early summer. The program is stoked for the new change.

A new locker room seemed to be a very fitting reward for the most successful team in Marlin history. The program has appeared in 12 NCAA tournaments, 10 since 2011 and are currently three-time national champions as well. Building their resounding resume has now led to a reward and big changes in the environment which has made Head Softball Coach Brandon Elliott proud.

Elliott has led the Marlin’s to a 543-127-1 record in his 16 years as Head Coach. He attributes the new locker rooms to the success of his Softball team. 

“It’s been a long time coming for our program and certainly for the women. It’s really more of a reward for what the women have done here in the last 16 years. As far as building this into a perennial national power and the women who were here before gave us the opportunity to build it,” Elliott said. 

This advancement in the program has the Marlin team excited. According to junior Emily Halloway, Infielder from Chesterfield, Va., the team cannot wait to see the new locker room. 

Overall, having a space that’s exclusively ours will continue to help our team chemistry grow. I think being able to have that just outside of our facility is amazing and I just can’t wait to see it all come together,” Halloway said.

The new locker room will have bathrooms available to the public as well, which is an important new addition due to the walk guests had to make in seasons prior.

 “Typically the first thing spectators ask is ‘where’s the bathrooms?’” Elliot said, “From an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standpoint, somebody that’s handicapped not having access to a restroom will now be able to use something that’s clean and sanitary.”

Andrea Hoover-Erbig, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics at VWU, talked on the importance of the locker rooms to the community and the team as well. 

“The women will be excited to have a locker room close to their field. The locker rooms for teams are a really nice space, a community space where they can talk and prepare and get ready to play. I really think they’ll love it,” Hoover-Erbig said. 

The newly-placed spot is also convenient for future injuries, seeing as the space is right next to the field and athletes can call for a quick examination from the training staff. 

Despite getting a massive new addition to the Marlin Softball program, their goal has not changed. The program still shoots high in hopes of bringing home their fourth National Championship.

We just hope to go out and enjoy the game and grow together as a team everyday. Of course I have high expectations for the season, we plan to give our all everyday. Obviously our end goal would be to win it all again and I think that it is possible. I’m very excited about the accomplishments we could achieve as a team this season,” Halloway said. 

The VWU Softball team will open their 2023 season at home at the Tom and Betty Broyles Field at TowneBank Park with a doubleheader against the Avenging Angels of Meredith College on Feb. 25. The first pitch is set to start at 1:30 p.m.

By Josh Heller