Over the years, Rivers has had the honor of hosting many significant athletic events. But Sunday, November 17, will be a first for the school, as Rivers has been selected to be the site of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) championship finals for girls’ field hockey.
According to Rivers Athletic Director Bob Pipe, Rivers has hosted other NEPSAC finals, but those were in cross country and downhill skiing, so they didn’t take place on campus. The field hockey final will be the first time Rivers has hosted a NEPSAC finals on campus, and it’s all possible because of the new athletics complex unveiled this fall
. “It’s definitely our new fields that made it possible for NEPSAC to consider us as a host site,” says Pipe.
The new athletics complex consists of two turf fields that sit side-by-side. It also includes a pavilion, creating a nice gathering spot for fans. “In the past, the schools that were selected to host NEPSAC finals were much bigger and had fancier facilities,” says Pipe. “Our new complex now puts our athletic facilities in the same league as those bigger schools.”
Rachael Ryan, president of the New England Prep School Women’s Field Hockey Association, which selects locations for the tournament, echoes Pipe’s sentiment. The NEPSAC teams are broken down into east and west divisions, she explains, and the goal has long been to alternate host sites between east and west. There were some schools in the west that fit the bill, she says, “but there weren’t as many options for schools in the east. Not as many schools had two turf fields.” She was delighted to learn that Rivers is now in a position to serve as a host in the east division.
Bob Howe, NEPSAC president, says, “The fact that you have two new turf fields puts the school in a different category.” Teams appreciate having the ability to warm up on a second field if an early game runs long. Both Howe and Ryan pointed out that the proximity of the two fields is key, too.
Rivers has had an impressive fall sports season, says Pipe. Depending on outcomes of this weekend’s games, four teams—field hockey, girls’ volleyball, and boys’ and girls’ soccer—may end up in the top-four seed spots, which could lead to Rivers hosting four quarter-final games this Wednesday.
Big games and tournaments pose some logistical challenges, notably in the area of parking, but Pipe isn’t complaining. “As a school, we want this problem,” he says. “It means the teams are successful and that we’ve had a great year.”
He’s still basking in the glow of the new athletics complex and its impact on the school. “I continue to thank the donors and the school for doing this,” Pipe says. “It’s not a small undertaking to build fields on such a tight time frame. I’m grateful we were able to do it so quickly and that it came out so well.”
As for the NEPSAC final, he adds, “It’s a fantastic event for the school, and a great honor. This is the first, but it will not be our last.”