Women’s athletics were celebrated and supported on Wednesday at Long Beach State where dignitaries and donors ceremoniously broke ground on the softball and women’s soccer clubhouse on campus.
The $3.5 million facility, which will include team lounges and locker rooms, will be at the LBSU Softball Complex next to George Allen Field where the women’s soccer team plays its home matches. Construction is scheduled to be completed by soccer season in August. In comparison, the recent locker room construction in the Walter Pyramid was less than $3 million.
“Raising money for women’s athletics is an uphill challenge, and that’s because of the world we live in,” University President Jane Close Conoley said. “It’s wrong, but it’s true, and everyone deserves great facilities. I’m especially grateful for Sandy and Doug (Leafstedt).”
Long-time donors Doug and Sandra Leafstedt were the first and biggest donation of $200,000, and that was matched by the university.
“We have a daughter who was a Division I athlete, so we understand female athletes and the challenges of female athletes,” Doug Leafstedt said. “I came from a place that had too many sports and not enough athletes, and my wife is a great athlete who didn’t have enough opportunities to play sports.”
LBSU Deputy Athletics Director Cindy Masner, who was only the second four-year softball player at, also made a challenge gift of up to $50,000.
“I never thought I’d be here with dirt being moved behind me,” Masner said. “Long Beach State is in my DNA, and I want other alums to give back as well. We don’t move forward without you.”
Athletics director Andy Fee was also on hand, and thanked everyone from Close Conoley to the CannonDesign architects.
“It takes a village, and everyone here right now cares,” Fee said.
Multiple speakers mentioned a meeting at the Leafstedt house that proved to be the catalyst for the project. LBSU women’s soccer coach Mauricio Ingrassia said he brought former team captains Nadia Link, Celeste Dominguez and Shawna Gordon to explain what a the new facility would mean to his athletes.
“This gives life to our program,” Ingrassia said. “Link, Dominguez and Gordon spoke on an emotional level, and their emotion was magical.”
“This will impact our student-athletes every day,” softball coach Kim Sowder said before getting emotional while thanking the Leafstedts and Masner. “It means so much that you believe in what we do.”
Listen to Fee and Sowder talk about the project on the latest episode of The LB Fee Show.