MARQUETTE - When the Northern Michigan University women's soccer program returns from a preseason tour of Europe for a pair of home exhibitions Labor Day weekend, it will be greeted by a welcome addition on the home pitch.
Construction is under way on a permanent, two-story press box at the NMU Soccer Field that will be dedicated during the regular season home opener on Saturday, Sept. 7, against Minnesota Crookston.
The majority of the project is being funded by a donation from Bob and Kip Cosan of downstate Mount Pleasant and is estimated to cost around $55,000 once completed, according to NMU athletic director Forrest Karr.
Construction, shown on Tuesday, is underway on a new two-story press box at the NMU Soccer Field in Marquette. The project is expected to be completed in time for the regular season home opener on Sept. 7 against Minnesota Crookston. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
The Cosans' daughter, Carolyn Ashley Cosan, was killed May 14, 2010, as a passenger in a car accident. The 18-year-old Mount Pleasant High School senior soccer standout had already signed a National Letter of Intent in February of 2010 to play soccer for head coach Matt Granstrand and the Wildcats in the fall.
According to reports in both the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun and Midland Daily News, police said excessive speed contributed to the incident in which a then 17-year-old driver pleaded guilty four months later to negligent homicide and operating a vehicle with the presence of a controlled substance.
"Because of the generosity of Bob and Kip Cosan, they're helping our program getting what we really need," Granstrand said.
"The biggest thing we need is a dry storage place where we can store our gear and a press box so eventually, we can do live stats and film games. (Now) three-fourths of our games are unfilmable if you're not inside. It's a huge, huge help for our program and a wonderful, generous, financial support from the Cosans to make it happen."
The first floor will consist of a storage area for the program gear while the second floor, equipped with windows on three sides, will create a panoramic view for statisticians, home and visiting team's film staff and the media.
Granstrand said the ability to post live statistics to the web during games, plus the ability in the future to live stream matches online like the university already does for hockey, football, basketball and volleyball, will help with recruiting.
"The parents want live stats, the fans want live stats," Granstrand said.
"We'd like to get to the point where not only can we do live stats, but hopefully, we can broadcast games live. You need a building like this to produce."
Since Granstrand was hired to take over the program in 2004, the NMU Soccer Field has seen the addition of a scoreboard, fencing and irrigation system.
The next step will be to build shelters over the benches for both teams - a welcome addition for the players since games take place between September and October - followed by permanent bleachers to seat between 600-800 spectators.
Those improvements would allow the university to host NCAA Division II tournament matches.
"We would have liked to do the shelters for the student-athletes - both our student-athletes and the visiting student-athletes - as part of phase one, but we don't have enough funding right now," Karr said. "I can definitely see us doing that project at this time next year.
"We want the women's soccer program to have a nice home, similar to our other sports. We have 13 intercollegiate sports and 12 of them have very nice facilities they use on a regular basis.
"We also have the two Olympic training sports with weightlifting and Greco-Roman wrestling. They also have very nice facilities, as well. Women's soccer was really the one we needed to improve."