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New FieldTurf is an Investment in Excellence For Blue Athletics

By Heidi Pitts ’01

A group of Whitman athletes and Whitman community members gathering at the new Whitman turf field

Facilities for Whitman student-athletes and coaches received a significant upgrade this summer. Thanks to $3.6 million in generous gifts from alumni and friends, a new FieldTurf surface is now in place for year-round training and competition. This new field was dedicated on Oct. 14, 2023, as James Hayner Field, in honor of the longtime Whitman trustee and Walla Walla community leader.

A Field for All Seasons

Hayner Field revolutionizes the training and competition experiences of Whitman’s soccer and lacrosse teams. Its multilayered FieldTurf CORE fiber offers stability and durability for year-round use and has been proved to reduce the incidence of soccer injuries, ensuring a safer and more dependable playing surface for the athletes.

"My favorite thing about playing on turf is the predictability with the bounce of the ball and the surface you're playing on as a whole—it's a lot more consistent," says Lorelei Staff ’25, a member of the Wom field. "A turf field is a very positive addition for Whitman Athletics."

Having played on a turf field during her youth sports years, women’s lacrosse captain Madeleine Sherry ’24 recognizes the advantages the new surface will provide the team. “I’m extremely excited to have our home field be turf now, as I believe that this addition will help us be more competitive within the conference,” she says. “Being able to play in all types of weather now will help us have more consistent practices through the winter, giving us a better chance to prepare for games that may not be in ideal conditions.”

Beyond serving as the primary home for soccer and lacrosse, Hayner Field’s all-weather capabilities will enable early-season baseball practice and provide a hub for various club and intramural sports, creating more opportunities for student involvement in recreational activities. Hayner Field will also host athletics camps and clinics, strengthening ties between the college and local community.

The Competitive Edge

James Hayner cutting the ribbon for the opening of the James Hayner field.Leading the giving was the Wyckoff family, including Whitman Trustee, Court Wyckoff ’00 and Katie Boyajian Wyckoff, Trustee Emeritus David Wyckoff ’67, and Priscilla Graham Wyckoff ’67, and Tygh Wyckoff ’02 and Sarah Menashe Wyckoff ’02. The family contributed in honor of Court’s grandfather, track student-athlete Robert “Bullet Bob” Graham ’36. Expressing the family’s sentiment, Court says, “We are proud to invest in the college’s athletics facilities and in this competitive field for soccer and lacrosse to strengthen the student-athlete experience at Whitman.”

W Club Board member Casey Mickelson ’75 and his wife, Lynn Kamman Mickelson ’75, see the field benefiting the college’s recruitment efforts. “We strongly believe that a vibrant athletic program at Whitman is vital to the overall health of the college in today’s competitive environment for students.”

Additional gifts to develop Hayner Field were made by Karl Quackenbush ’75 and Michelle Quackenbush, Helen McAuslan Logan-Schneider ’55, Trustee Emeritus Michael Murr and Eva Murr, W Club Board Member John Blackmon ’79 and Susan Blackmon, Trustee and W Club co-founder Jim Moore ’66 and Kathryn Lindquist ’66, and Trustee Charlie Rosenberrry ’81 and Lanora Welker Rosenberrry ’88. 

A Legacy of Leadership

The field’s namesake embodies the spirit of dedication, service and leadership that the Whitman community values. A lifelong Walla Walla resident, Hayner has served the college for over four decades as a trusted advisor to six presidents, a member and chair of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers, and legal counsel. 

“Athletics are an important part of the student experience and a means of further strengthening our community in support of the college’s academic mission,” says Whitman College President Sarah Bolton. “We are pleased to be naming the new field in honor of the exceptionally dedicated Whitman and Walla Walla leader Jim Hayner, and are grateful for the generosity of trustees, W Club board members, and other alumni and friends in making this investment for our students.”  

Published on Nov 2, 2023
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