The Catholic University of America

Oct. 27, 2010

CUA to Flip the Switch for First-Ever Night Football Game

 
  Fans on Oct. 22 attended a night game played under the permanent lights at Cardinal Stadium, watching CUA's field hockey team defeat Drew University 3-1.

Catholic University has hosted papal visits and presidential appearances. This Friday night, it will host another historic if less momentous event: a night football game.

CUA’s men’s football team (3-4, 1-2 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference) will play Washington and Lee University (5-2, 4-0) under new lights at Cardinal Stadium. Kickoff for the Oct. 29 game is at 7 p.m.

“Our guys are really excited to play this Friday night for the first game under the lights in school history,” says Head Football Coach Dave Dunn. “We are coming off a big road win in the league against Emory & Henry and our players have always loved to compete against Washington & Lee. It should be a great night.”

For years, CUA sports teams practiced under eight temporary lights at the stadium, which ran on generators and were used for all varsity practices. Now that they are playing and practicing under permanent lights, the athletics staff exulted about their reliability and convenience.

“It’s a huge asset and boost to our program,” says Gia Cillizza, head coach of CUA’s field hockey team, which is ranked No. 15 in the nation. “Just being able to schedule practice around classes and labs means a lot for our students, many of whom are nursing, education, and science majors and come back from class and lab late in the afternoon or early evening. Now we can practice until late at night.”

Cillizza’s players were the first at CUA to play under the glow of the stadium’s four Musco light poles. The team hosted St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Oct. 12, defeating the Seahawks 4-1.

Along with football and women’s field hockey players, members of the cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams have practiced under the lights.

“We are very grateful to our donors, alumni and friends who were able to make this happen and contribute to the success of our student-athletes,” says Mike Allen, associate vice president and director of athletics.

The first person to flip the switch for the permanent lights was Clark Rodano, master electrician for the office of facilities, maintenance and operations. Since he did so on Sept. 1, athletics staff has been preparing for the first night football game.

Their plans will become reality this Friday evening. From 5:30 until kickoff all CUA students will receive complementary food and drinks outside Cardinal Stadium. There will also be games and activities to keep those in attendance busy. The student-run event is being organized and sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry and the Program Board.

The first 250 students through the stadium gate will receive free T-shirts and later in the evening, there will be a Halloween costume contest with three top prizes for the best costumes.

Current CUA students won’t be the only ones joining in the festivities. Courtesy of the Office of Alumni Relations, alumni and guests can attend a pre-game celebration, including all-you-can-eat food and drink, for $5 at the stadium. Go to www.cuatoday.com for more information and to register for the event.

Once inside, fans will witness the presentation of the Anthony J. Bottoni and the Ronnie McManes awards. Those who are unable to attend will be able to watch everything as it happens at live.cua.edu.

Bottoni was a two-year starting right guard for the Cardinals who lost his life in a car crash in December 1999, and the award was established in 2000 to honor the CUA football team’s outstanding senior player. Former senior offensive lineman Jim Gehringer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history in May 2010, will receive the award.

The Ronnie McManes Award has been presented annually since 1998 to the Cardinal football player who has risen above adversity to excel athletically and academically. The award is named in honor of McManes, who helped to rejuvenate football at CUA by becoming the university’s first head football coach in 1965 after the program went on a 15-year hiatus. Tommie Roberson, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, is the recipient of this year’s McManes Award.

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