Dangerous rocks at ‘The Rock’ end one athletes’ season

By Chloe Nott

UPDATE March 29, 2021: Almost two weeks after QUMedia published this story, Quincy University replaced the dangerous rocks with concrete.

Rocks replaced with concrete

Original story published March 17, 2021: Meetings among QU Athletics and other departments are in progress after continuing incidences at QU Stadium. The primary concern is the crushed stone (gravel) used for landscaping around the edge of the field. 

This poses a hazard to students as they end up chasing balls into those landscaped areas. A cement path running along one side of the field is less that a foot away from the sideline. The gravel is located in areas along that cement border. For athletes to play their best, they need to be able to utilize the entire field. This means not having to pull back from play near the sidelines in fear of injury. 

Interim director of athletics Phil Conover has agreed to assist QUMedia in their reporting on the matter. However, no comments have been made yet regarding if or when the gravel will be removed. Athletes are still continuing to practice and play while waiting for changes to be made.

QU student Kara Wilhelm is just one victim of the notorious stadium rocks. During the opening game of the QU Women’s Lacrosse season against Northern Michigan University, Wilhelm fought for a ball and chased it out of bounds. That play would be the last time she would run off that field for the foreseeable future.

Kara Wilhelm with the ball in her first and last game of the season. Image by Denny Sinnock.

The sophomore fell as her ankle twisted on the loose stones. After being carried off and taken to hospital, Wilhelm found herself in a controlled ankle motion boot and with little chance of playing again this season. 

“Missing another season really sucks because I was looking forward to it a lot,” Wilhelm said.

Despite Wilhelm’s second season being taken from her, after last season’s cancellation due to the pandemic, she remains committed to the program and plans to return to play her junior year. Wilhelm also hopes that the gravel will be removed by then.

“They should do it sooner rather than later, it cost me my season and who knows how many others have gotten hurt and also how many could still potentially get hurt,” Wilhelm said.

QU athletic trainer Samantha DesJardine works with two teams that use the QU Stadium. The football team and women’s lacrosse team have both suffered injuries from the crushed stone. 

DesJardine noticed that the landscaping has become more of an issue since the lacrosse programs have started. This is due to the end lines and sidelines being closer to the edge of the turf for lacrosse. 

While some injuries are minor, with players enduring cuts and bruises, others such as Wilhelm’s result in serious injury. DesJardine hopes that changes can be made for the safety of everyone. 

“I think during practices everyone is aware of them and tries to avoid them, but when it comes to games athletes are just in a highly competitive mode, they forget they are there or disregard them and hope for the best,” DesJardine said. “Everyone is aware of the hazard, it just takes time and a plan to remove them.”

QU Stadium obtained significant upgrades in 2015, including new turf, landscaping, and a four-story press box. However, the design and planning failed to recognize that athletes need space beyond the sidelines of the turf.

More information regarding possible changes is expected to occur within the coming weeks. 

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