In one of my first posts for this blog, I highlighted some of the reasons why being a Division-I athlete is awesome. I wanted to expand on my original list by talking about some of the coolest stadiums I have gotten the chance to play at. The platform that college athletes play on is pretty cool. There are a lot of people in the US If you play a high profile sport like football or basketball, chances are that every one of your games will be played in a professional caliber stadium. In a 2016 NCAA study, the ten college football programs with the highest average attendance each had 90,000 fans per home game. The school with the highest average attendance was the University of Michigan, having an average of 110,468. This number crushes every professional sports team in the United States. The platform that Division-I players perform on is pretty cool. While lacrosse isn’t quite the level of football, I still have played in some pretty sweet places, here are the top ones below –
1. Michigan Stadium (AKA The Big House) – I got the chance to play in The Big House not once but twice. While the max capacity is right under 110,000, this is the higest capacity stadium in the country. We didn’t fill the seats but it was surreal running out of the same tunnel that my favorite college football team comes out of. When I played their during my sophomore season I was able to capture a good pic with one of my close defenders that you can see below.
My sister just finished up her Freshman Year at the University of Michigan. I got the chance to catch some football games during the fall and here are some videos I took of the stadium during a packed football game. One of the clips is from a seat while the other I was able to capture by sneaking onto the field level (I wouldn’t recommend trying this). The stadium has just a little bit higher attendance then when I played there.
2. Sports Authority field at Mile High-
Every Kid dreams of playing in a professional sports stadium. My Freshman year of college we took on Air Force at the home of Denver Broncos, Mile High stadium and everything about this trip was really special. Having the bus pull into the stadium and basically drop you off next to the locker room gave that feel of what it is like to be a professional athlete. The craziest part of this experience was the effect of playing at a high altitude. I remember going out for our shoot around the day before the game and being out of breath after jogging around the field just one time. People talk about the effects of playing at high altitude but after experiencing it first hand it really does have an impact on your conditioning.
3 Disney Wide World of Sports Complex-
This was the first stadium that I played in as a college athlete. During my freshman season Loyola was the reigning National Champion the season before I got there. Because of this, we were invited to play against Team USA in Orlando at the Disney Sports Complex. Not only was the venue cool but it was also a pretty surreal experience playing against the best lacrosse players in the world. Here I was just a young freshman going up against some of the greats that I looked up to when I was growing up. This kind of exposure definitely made it easier for me moving forward as I knew that I could play against anyone after this.
This was the first stadium that I played in as a college athlete. During my freshman season Loyola was the reigning National Champion the season before I got there. Because of this, we were invited to play against Team USA in Orlando at the Disney Sports Complex. Not only was the venue cool but it was also a pretty surreal experience playing against the best lacrosse players in the world. Here I was just a young freshman going up against some of the greats that I looked up to when I was growing up. This kind of exposure definitely made it easier for me moving forward as I knew that I could play against anyone after this. To take a virtual tour of the complex, click here.
4. Ridley Athletic Complex-
Mount Ridley as it is referred to by those who play at Loyola, will always hold a special place in my heart. For starters, this was really just an awesome stadium to play at. Ridley is probably the nicest lacrosse only facility in the country. I have a ton of memories on this field from training and practicing in 90 plus degree temperatures in late August to playing in big games in front of 5000 plus people. Located in the heart of Baltimore, the premier hotbed for lacrosse in the United States, in addition to the overflowing support from students and alumni, Saturdays at Ridley were packed with fans of the sport of all ages. The biggest game I ever played at Ridley was against the University of Maryland, number 2 in the country and we were number 1, the final attendance was 5,781 fans (goo.gl/c4hC4d). As a college lacrosse player, this is one of the best venues in the game.
5. Vidas Athletic Complex–
I am very lucky to have been able to call this place home for the last 3 years. It may not have the size or glamour of the other stadiums on this list but as any other Drexel athlete will tell you, there is something special about playing here. Located in the heart of West Philly, it can be hard to hear your teammates with the loud ambience surrounding the field from the fire house across the street to the government housing buildings about 200 yards to left where residents often have loud music blaring. Teams hate getting on the bus and coming to play at Vidas but thats what makes it all the better. Another thing that makes Vidas a daunting place to play for opposing teams is hearing the heckling from the notorious West Philly’s Finest, a group made up of Drexel Lacrosse Alumni that are very supportive and always show up with strong numbers. Below is a picture I took of our locker room at Vidas. Regardless of what stadium you play in, nothing beats being at home in your own locker room!
These are the stadiums that I will definitely remember playing in and tell my kids about some day. What do you think some of the best places to play in as a college athlete? Share your experiences or places you wish you could play in the comments section below.