On Friday, St. Olaf College named its synthetic turf field Klein Field at Manitou. The new name recognizes Chris and Elise Klein P ’19, whose gift to St. Olaf made possible the installation of the turf last summer.
St. Olaf switched to a synthetic system to provide its student-athletes a more durable, even playing surface that promotes player safety. The new turf better absorbs impact and 30 percent less heat than other synthetic systems.
Including St. Olaf, 11 schools in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference now feature artificial turf, and use of turf has expanded nationwide.
“Most student-athletes coming to St. Olaf are used to playing on synthetic turf,” says St. Olaf Athletic Director Ryan Bowles. “Having turf here at Manitou has allowed Oles to train and compete at a higher level without the worry of field conditions. This transformational addition has boosted our recruitment of student-athletes who can excel academically and athletically on the Hill.”
For the Kleins, supporting the upgrade at Manitou was very much about helping St. Olaf provide the best opportunities possible for its students.
“People don’t always see athletics as a learning opportunity, but Division III athletics are integral to a liberal arts education,” says Chris Klein.
“Across St. Olaf’s athletic programs, Oles can be part of something beyond themselves while pursuing rigorous academic study. Balancing these commitments is a great challenge that prepares students to take on the world.”
The addition of synthetic turf is one of several enhancements donors have recently made possible to St. Olaf’s athletic facilities. Over the summer, two separate anonymous donors made possible the creation of a golf program facility inside Skoglund Center as well as an updated training and performance center inside Tom Porter Hall adjacent Klein Field at Manitou. St. Olaf also continues to fundraise for an on-campus ice arena, and donors have contributed $5 million for the project to date.
The golf training facility includes three hitting stations, two state-of-the-art training simulators, student-athlete lockers and an indoor putting surface. At Tom Porter Hall, outdated training equipment was replaced, and the space reconfigured to provide the space and resources needed for warm up, agility work, and plyometrics — a training technique helpful for various sports.
“Ultimately what it came down to for us is if you really believe in something, you should go all in, support it however you can,” says Klein. “We hope others may come forward to help St. Olaf continue building on these advancements.”