By Daniel Curren
The hot sun shined down on the freshly installed turf on a bright Saturday afternoon at Springfield College. Members of the softball program, old and new, cheered as former Springfield softball coach, and pioneer in Pride athletics Diane L. Potter cut through the red ribbon, officially opening the new field in her name.
The Springfield softball program hosted an event to honor former coach Potter and recognize her efforts for the college, and name the newly renovated field after her. The ceremony served as a reunion for the program with numerous alumni, coaches, faculty, as well as current players in attendance.
Potter coached the softball team for 21 years after graduating from Springfield in 1957. She also coached the gymnastics team, serving as the program’s first coach. She was a very decorated coach, bringing home four undefeated seasons, two Northeast 8 Championships, an EAIAW Championship and an ECAC Division II Championship. She also led the pride to 32 straight victories between the 1968 and 1970 seasons. Several members of those teams attended the ceremony for their former coach.
The opening of the newly renovated field and honoring of Coach Potter comes after an elongated history of different fields the softball team has played on. After spending decades shifting locations on campus, they finally settled on the current location next to the health center in 1985, with that field also being named after Coach Potter.
The first person to speak on Potter’s behalf during the ceremony was Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper, who spoke nothing but high praise for the iconic Springfield softball coach.
“So when she comes out of retirement, as all great athletes have the option to do, if she’s standing next to me, I know I can’t lose,” Cooper said.
Soon after, it was time for Potter to speak, and she expressed her excitement for the future of the program, of which she helped build.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that you folks have a chance to play on this,” Potter said. “Though you have seen those who came before you, and the legacy of the softball program, you are the future of it. You’re the current and you are the future.”
Although the current Springfield softball athletes were not coached by Potter, her contributions still leave an impact on each and every one of them, and senior outfielder Ava Fernandez was one who was appreciative with her work.
“Coach Potter is everyone’s mentor here,” said Fernandez. “We are so thankful that we are able to be here today and congratulate her.”
With lots of people coming to support the history of the softball program on that day, senior Sarah Mulligan was grateful to be a part of it.
“It meant a lot to see everyone who made this possible come back. Coach Potter has done so much not only for our program but women in sports and it’s just really awesome to see everyone come together. It makes us really proud to be a Springfield softball player,” Mulligan said.
This was an event that had to be pushed back due to the pandemic, so the softball team has already played their first few games on the new field. Players have already seen how much of an upgrade the turf has been.
“Since I am a senior, I played on the dirt field my freshman and sophomore year, and this field is top notch.” said Fernandez. “It’s really nice to be able to play on the turf and we’re all just really grateful that we have such a nice field and so many people who helped make it possible,” said Mulligan.
The Springfield College softball team will look to continue their legacy on the new Diane L. Potter field in the spring.
Photo: Springfield College