The first time I stepped onto the turf field at Shippensburg University, I was a senior in high school at the district championships for track and field. I hurdled, so I usually would race towards the beginning of most meets. I looked over the schedule and noticed that the events ended earlier in the day compared to most invitationals and noteworthy meets. I asked my coach, an intense man who I needed to ask at a very specific time, why they ended everything so early. He looked at me and smiled, knowing I was going to school here in just a few months, and said, “Look up. They don’t have any lights.” I can’t think of a word severe enough to describe the thoughts in my head. Dumbfounded? Astounded? Flabbergasted? I had many questions and many more to come.
Shippensburg is the location for both Districts and States in track and field at the high school level, which means their facilities are considered high end; otherwise, they would find a different college for the venue. However, almost every high school in the country has lights above their football field and track. Why is a Division II college letting their field be behind the times? It gets worse when you consider the dirt recreational fields. They are all perfectly lit with lights that seem to have been gifted by Ra, God of the Sun.
The high temperatures and direct sunlight don’t help the experience of the Saturday football games; many people leave before halftime regardless of the score, but 21-44 was how we ended our home game against IUP. If the stadium had lights that would open the possibility for night games in the schedule, which would add excitement on many levels.
When asked how he would feel about lights being introduced to the stadium after his graduation, Kobe “Bubba” Carbaugh exclaimed, “Who gets to be the first victim to the Red Raiders at Seth Grove Stadium after dark?” Clearly there would be some excitement from alumni that would engage the community. Darien Ressler, a member of the track team for this upcoming season, had this to say about the idea of lights: “Personally, I would love having lights because I enjoy working out late, and although I could run in the dark it’s not enjoyable.”
I do not claim to know the finances of the school, nor do I intend to disrespect the stadium (it truly is a nice field) but the difference that lights could make for this school is hard to ignore. While it wouldn’t make a difference for me as I am expecting to be graduating in the Spring semester, it would bring a smile to my face years down the road to hear that Shippensburg is finally getting out of the dark ages.