Texas Tech Spotlight: John Walker Soccer Complex
By: Taylor Wilson
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Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Despite a first-round exit at this year’s Big 12 Championship, the Texas Tech’s women’s soccer team has much to look forward to.
The Red Raiders moved out of R.P Fuller Stadium at the end of last season excited about their new home, the John Walker Soccer Complex. The construction on the new complex began two years ago, which is reported to have cost between $4 and $5 million.
The new complex includes a scoreboard, press box, a full-size synthetic turf soccer field, a practice field, and a state-of-the-art stereo system. The complex is estimated to house nearly 2,000 fans and has a unique design which head coach Tom Stone hopes will play a huge role in a home-field advantage for the Red Raiders.
“Our plan was to have it be as close to the field as legally possible and have the stadium be as steep as engineering would allow,” said Stone. “So if you sit in the back row of our stadium at the top, which is as far as you can get from the field, you’re still right on top of the action.”
Stone said the atmosphere in a sport such as soccer can tremendously help not only for a home-field advantage, but with recruiting and recognition of the program.
“Soccer is a sport that you just don’t want to be very far from the field or you lose kind of the energy that’s on the field,” said Stone. “And by being such close proximity, we’ll be able to really create a good home-field advantage and I think too, it will help us recruit teams to come play us and come to Lubbock and get a game with us.”
The new stadium and unique design has already played a major role in home-field advantage for the soccer program. This season, the Red Raiders finished with a 6-5-1 record at home compared to a 9-15-1 record the previous three seasons. Also, the average attendance was up nearly 33 percent from last season.
Tina Rincon, Tech’s goalkeeper, said the unique design of the stands being so close to the field has a noticeable impact on the game and on the players themselves.
“It is awesome when the fans get in to the game because it really motivates us,” said Rincon. “We have had some close games and have had the fans involved and I think that has helped us out because it distracts the other team.”
Rincon said usually you can tell a lot about a team just by their facility, and with the new complex, she hopes Tech will back up their facility with their performance on the field.
“Going to other places, I know we will want to carry our name and play better,” said Rincon. “So that when they come to play us at home, they already know we are good.”
In addition to what has already been completed, there is second phase of the complex that will help build the reputation and prestige of the women’s program. Phase 2 is currently underway which includes an 8,000 square-foot field house complete with a training room, small weight and workout room, locker room, video room, player lounge, lounge for parents and recruits, coaches offices, and meeting areas.
Casey McCall, a freshman defender, said the new complex and amenities had a huge impact on her decision to come play for Tech.
“A lot of the other schools I looked at had an older stadium and facilities,” said McCall. “I knew that the opportunity to come here to Texas Tech with the complex being brand new was something very special and unique.”
McCall said she is excited about her future here at Tech and looks forward to what the complex is going to bring to Tech’s soccer program.
“It excites me to know that this new complex is going to be one of the key factors in bringing in top players that are going to help build this program,” said McCall. “I'm excited to come in as a freshman and be able to be in this brand new stadium and facilities for all four years, I feel like we have something that no other school has, and it’s awesome to know that our team is going to be able to enjoy that.”
Stone said the new complex says a lot about the commitment and dedication of the athletic department here at Tech.
“What it says first and foremost is to the commitment that the athletic department has made to women’s soccer,” said Stone.
“Gerald Myers, Judi Henry, Steve Uryasz and everyone that has helped make this happen, they’re committed to seeing women’s soccer win," he acknowledged. "They know that part of that commitment is a facility that shows prospective players how serious we are about it, how professional an environment they can live in and when players walk in here there will be no doubt in their mind Texas Tech wants to win in women’s soccer.”