Bethel College softball celebrated an infrastructure milestone with a groundbreaking for a new building.


Representatives from the college and Vogts Construction were on hand June 4 at Wedel Field on the Bethel campus with hard hats and shovels to kick off construction of a combination locker room and clubhouse.


"Two years ago, a parent of a current player came up with the idea of (this kind of building)," Bethel softball coach David Middleton said. "That suggestion built into a vision that two years later has become a reality."


He said that he along with the parent, Bethel Athletic Director Tony Hoops, founding softball coach Stacy Middleton, and some current players and softball alumni met with a group of influential female business leaders out of Kansas City.


"This meeting set the groundwork for new donor connections for Bethel College that allowed the building to become a reality so quickly," Hoops said.


The building will include a locker room, officials' room, public restrooms, a concession stand, a covered patio, and a team laundry room.


"Having restrooms at the field will be a much-needed amenity," David Middleton said. "In the past, players, fans, and opposing teams had to use the (Voth Hall) restrooms, which created security concerns (and were) very difficult for many of our fans who are elderly and handicapped to use.


"Overall, this is a much-needed facility, and it began with a vision and a belief in our program by one of our parents. Along the way, there have been many others who have helped make this a reality, such as (Bethel president) Jon Gering, (Bethel vice president for institutional advancement) Brad Kohlman, Tony Hoops, and a long list of donors."


"Our softball program started with literally nothing nine years ago," Hoops said, "and now we are building a premier on-campus facility that will allow all of our students to enjoy the excitement of women's softball.


"This project is the perfect example of taking a vision someone had and then working together with many parts of campus to make it a reality," he continued. "Advancement, athletics, alumni, maintenance, President Gering, and the lead donor all worked very strategically on this project with a local company, Vogts Construction. It was a true team effort.


"(It) is (also an) example of how Bethel College has advocated and continues to advocate, for women's athletics on our campus. I look forward to the amazing atmosphere this project will create for our community, alumni, and students."


The project will be complete for use of the softball program during this upcoming school year.