After 27 seasons without an official home field, Indiana Tech softball coach Stephanie Zimny changed that with a snip of the ribbon, marking the opening of the Warrior Park softball field Thursday.
“The word is 'finally,'” Zimny said. “This program is so deserving of this, so it's a super exciting day for us. It's a place to finally call home.”
It has been a long time coming for the project, which broke ground in May 2018. The softball field is the first phase to open of a $15 million project, which also includes a track and field complex, wrestling facility and locker rooms. The other phases are set to be finished in the fall.
“We are more than delighted with the Warrior Park projects,” Tech athletic director Debbie Warren said. “It's just been a dream come true.”
The new field sits on what used to be the back nine of the Donald Ross Golf Club. Zimny called it one of the nicest fields in the state and gushed about what a field like Warrior Park can do for recruiting.
“Our program will take off just by this alone,” Zimny said. “Kids are looking for that – they're looking for a product to play on and now we have that to offer. I can see us landing a few more big-time recruits for sure.”
Warren said she's excited that Warrior Park can be a place to merge the campus and the city.
“I think it means we believe in Fort Wayne, Indiana Tech and we believe in the collaboration of the two,” Warren said. “Just how well we can work together and bring something special for the community to enjoy.”
As the sound of construction on the other phases loomed in the background during the grand opening, Mayor Tom Henry and Indiana Tech President Karl Einolf both addressed fans.
“For years there wasn't much out here but a golf course,” Henry said at the ribbon cutting. “Now look at what you all have done. You've really made this a tremendous part of our city.”
Einolf and Tech's two preceding presidents Don Andorfer (1985-2003) and Art Snyder (2003-17) all threw out ceremonial first pitches at the new ballpark.
Tech then split the doubleheader with Taylor to open the season, winning the first game 3-2 and dropping the second 9-3.
This time, instead of bouncing around from ballpark to ballpark as in previous seasons, the Warriors have a home and one that's not going anywhere.
“It's beyond words,” Warren said. “The softball team has waited a long time.”