By Hannah Lussier | Managing Editor

Photo by Harry Winthrop, Mayor of Newport

Just a five minute walk from Rodgers Recreation Center, the newly renovated Toppa Field is giving Salve students a reason to show their Seahawk spirit as they return to campus this fall. After months of negotiation and planning between administrators at Salve and Rogers High School, the Newport City Council voted unanimously for the approval of a $3 million plan to renovate the city’s Toppa Field located on Freebody Street. The renovation, swiftly completed in only a few months, boasts a new synthetic turf surface, updates to the press box and bleachers, as well as an improved space for athletic training staff and locker rooms for athletes. As the new home field of Salve’s football team and the improved home field of Salve softball, the renovations will play a large role in creating Salve pride by bringing athletic events closer to campus. It is the first time that Salve’s athletes can claim a space as their own after playing for many years at Gaudet in Middletown. 

Talking on the planning process for the project, Salve’s Athletic Director, Jody Mooradian, says that Salve took great care to make sure that all renovations were in accordance with what the greater Newport community values. The renovation is meant to benefit the city as well as athletes at Salve Regina and Rogers as it will remain open to the public. Mooradian is confident that the field’s updates will foster a positive relationship with community members. She says that, “we [at Salve] really do want to have good neighborhood relations” and the overwhelming support for the project at Toppa is evidence that the University has tapped into what the community needs. Mooradian adds that the unanimous vote is “a compliment to the planning process and reinforces how important the project is.” 

Salve students were another obvious focus for the project. In past years, students have questioned whether or not there is a feeling of collegiate spirit on campus. With the majority of outdoor athletic events happening a car ride away from campus, it was difficult for students to feel connected with the Athletics Department. Most students know someone who is an athlete, but actually being present at games and matches had previously been a struggle. Mooradian states that opening day at Toppa was her “best day at Salve so far” because “you really felt the spirit of Salve.”  

Photo by Salve Regina Sports Information

Senior offensive lineman and Administration of Justice major, Tom Wagner, paints a similar picture when he describes playing his first game at Toppa. He says that settling in at the field was like “moving into a house for the first time.” The general feeling among his teammates was one of “excitement” especially when they were able to run out of the tunnel and onto the field to greet a full stand of Salve fans. Wagner cites proximity to campus as the reason why games have been more well-attended by students this year. Previously, the stands were filled primarily by parents of the athletes.  

In the future, Mooradian hopes that the field will become even more visible. It is clear that the space has already captured athletes’ hearts as they have begun using the hashtag “#ToppaTurnUp” to document games on the field. Mooradian says that she has visions for the field to be incorporated with other aspects of student life with the addition of something like a pep band. Mooradian is clearly excited about the potential for activities at the field adding, “I’ll tell you we got a t-shirt gun this year! How cool is that?” 

Visit salveathletics.com for football schedules.

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