New turf field is dream realized at Lauralton

Lauralton Hall unveiled a brand-new $2-million synthetic turf field and celebrated the school’s third Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday.

Mayor Ben Blake welcomed the students, faculty, staff, alumnae, inductees, and other individuals who came to celebrate.

“It’s a beautiful day; it’s a great day to be outside, especially on an athletic field where we know that there’s going to be many years of successful sports teams,” Blake said. “It’s a project that was many years in the making; a lot of people contributed to this effort.”

Lauralton Hall President Dr. Toni Iadarola said she is extremely proud of the new field.

“It was a dream that finally came true,” she said.

After opening statements, the Rev. Michael J. Doody from Fairfield University and Lilyan Fraher, a Lauralton graduate, offered prayers and blessings.

“It was exciting for me because when I went here to school, we had no idea of such a beautiful field, and even when I taught here it was something that was just talked about,” said Fraher, who is a Lauralton Hall alumna and taught at the high school from 1996 until 2002. “So today was a dream fulfilled.”

Joe Ferraiolo, area general manager at Frontier Communications of New Haven County, also spoke, noting that his company donated $50,000 to the field fund.

“It’s a proud moment, a proud opportunity to be able to help create an opportunity for these women to succeed and move forward in their careers,” said Ferraiolo. “We’re absolutely proud; it’s consistent with our values of reaching out to the community.”

The new athletic field will be used for soccer, track, lacrosse, and field hockey. During the planning stages of the project, the athletic director had the student athletes play on a variety of surfaces to determine their preference. They chose artificial turf over natural grass because there are no uneven or differently textured areas to alter the speed of a ball or affect performance. There is no downtime due to weather conditions. It is also infilled with sand and rubber particles that act as artificial earth, giving the athletes shock absorption and natural footing. Also, a majority of Lauralton Hall’s competitor schools play on artificial turf.

Iadarola said the artificial turf fits in perfectly with the school’s commitment to caring for the environment. Artificial turf requires no watering, mowing or chemical fertilizers and is made with recycled materials.

“This project is only possible because of the generous donations from parents, trustees, alumnae, faculty, staff, and friends,” Iadarola said before the dedication ceremony. “They support our goal of providing student athletes with an opportunity to learn the importance of ethical behavior, good sportsmanship, positive values, and a realization of their self-worth.”

Iadarola said she and others have been waiting for a field like this for a long time and are thrilled that it is now here. Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, she said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

A luncheon was held before the dedication ceremony, and keynote speaker Dr. Donna Lopiano spoke to the attendees. Fox Sports named her one of the “10 Most Powerful Women in Sports.” She is also the former chief executive officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation. She discussed the necessity of equality for women in sports. Lopiano also spoke about the importance of women owning a strong self-image, and how sports can help give them that strength.

Next, four inductees into Lauralton’s Hall of Fame gave speeches about athletics and the Lauralton community. Mary Ellen Curran (Class of ’82) completed nine 200-mile bike rides to benefit the Jimmy Fund/Dana Farber Institute in the past. She has a 5.0 in USTA League Tennis and was a finalist for ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year award last year.

Theresa Napolitano coached field hockey and softball at the high school, leading the softball team to state tournaments. Last year she was inducted into the State Coaches Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Softball Hall of Fame.

Tom McDonald coached basketball and softball at Lauralton, and under his guidance the basketball team won five division titles and a CCIAC championship. In 2014, McDonald was inducted into the Connecticut Scholastic and Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame.

Elizabeth Higgins Gladfelter (Class of ’64) was valedictorian of her class and completed numerous marathons, half marathons and triathlons.

Gladfelter said, “One of the most important things is to participate in anything and let young women know they can.”