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Blue Devils welcome stadium renovations

When Duke head coach Beth Bozman was lured away from Princeton in 2003, then-Director of Athletics Joe Alleva promised her that the Blue Devils would have a new stadium upon her hiring.

Five years have elapsed, but finally, Williams Field is more like Williams Stadium.

What used to be just a turf field on the outskirts of East Campus is now something entirely new. Soon, fans will enter Williams Field through a brick-pillared entrance and will be greeted with a state-of-the-art scoreboard-as well as their own bathrooms. In addition, the new digs boast bleachers that can seat 1,600 and, opening in October, will be ready just in time for Duke to host the ACC tournament Nov. 6 through Nov. 9.

"You feel like you are a champion team," Bozman said of the renovations. "You feel like you belong here. It's a great facility for field hockey, and not many schools have that."

But it was not one that came immediately with Bozman's arrival at Duke. After leaving her post at Princeton to lead the Blue Devils, Bozman guided Duke to four national semifinal appearances in her first four years on the job.

Now, the perennial powerhouse has a home to fit its prowess.

"This is a very exciting time for Duke Field Hockey," said Jacki Silar, the former Duke head coach and current associate director of athletics and senior women's administrator, who has overseen much of the project.

"With the renovations to Williams Field, Duke University's facility will be viewed as one of the premiere field hockey stadiums in the country. This facility is of tremendous importance to our program as we recruit the top student-athletes in the country."

And the improvements to Williams Field will do more than simply help recruiting. They have already boosted player morale, as the Blue Devils feel the field equals their quality of play.

"We look more professional-not just like an intramural team anymore," senior midfielder Marian Dickinson said. "It used to be just a turf in the middle of nothing. Now I think it's really coming together, reflecting the quality of the team we have here at Duke."

In addition to the external features, the new field has player-enhancing facilities, including locker rooms and a team room where players and coaches can sit and analyze film. The old locker rooms were housed in nearby Brodie Recreation Center.

There is also a new press box at the top of the bleachers on the opposite side of the field from the team benches. It has three sections: home, visitor and media. The uppermost section is equipped with video capabilities.

All in all, the fulfillment of one of Bozman's goals might lead to another: winning the program's first national championship.

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