Improving a softball field and building connections
Kerry Siggins ’01, Kari Gonzales ’02 and Kim Alanis ’04, MS ’05 have many things in common. They all grew up playing softball in Colorado, then played together at Mines with the help of athletics scholarships. They’re all moms with successful careers—Siggins and Gonzales are company CEOs, and Alanis is a geological consultant and head softball coach at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
And they credit the sisterhood and skill sets they found on the Oredigger softball team not only for keeping them at Mines through tough personal struggles but also for building the lives they lead today.
“We’re all executives because we stayed at Mines and learned about leadership, teamwork and resiliency on the softball team,” Siggins said. “Mines softball can put out some pretty amazing women, the ones who will be leaders and engineer innovative products and services all over the world.”
Now, they are collaborating on a $140,000 fundraising campaign that’s not only aimed at replacing the grass field with turf but also at reconnecting softball alumni with the program.
“Alumni are as important to our program as our current players are,” softball head coach Mike Coutts said. “They’re our history. I want our kids to meet and learn about as many alumni as possible. I believe this campaign will create those opportunities.”
Siggins, Gonzales and Alanis played on a grass field during the late 1990s and early 2000s. That meant shoveling the muddy, rock-strewn grass field after it snowed to prepare it for practice, which was beholden to the sunset because the field had no lights.
Gonzales recalls seeing the softball field on her first campus visit: “I played on better fields in high school. But the girls and the coach were amazing, and I had my heart sold on being an engineer and staying in Colorado. Mines was my top choice.”
Twenty years later, the field still hasn’t been updated to artificial turf—which not only requires less maintenance but also is safer to play on. With no lights, the team can be limited to two hours of practice. Both concerns put the Orediggers at a disadvantage.
“While the field had some renovations since I graduated 20-some years ago, it’s not enough,” Siggins said. “Mines softball players deserve more. I made a commitment to act.”
Coutts worked with the athletics department to secure a chunk of university funding to upgrade the field surface. Siggins worked with the Mines Foundation to design a fundraising campaign to cover the rest of the cost. She recruited Alanis and Gonzales to help inspire other softball alumni and the community to join in.
“Kerry literally dropped out of the blue and made a significant donation to the program,” Coutts said. “She’s showing our alumni and current players how much she values what the program gave her and how they can do the same. With enough support from alumni and the community, lights will be next.”
Coutts said having a turf field will give the team more opportunities to practice outside and keep home games at Mines.
“We’ve had to move games to other locations in the past because of our field conditions,” he said. “The upgrade will obviously put our current players in a better position and impact our future players as well. They’ll know that softball is a priority, and much will be expected of them. But it will have a far greater impact on our school. Mines’ teams have experienced unprecedented success recently, and we want to be part of that.”
When Siggins, Alanis and Gonzales played, the team wasn’t great, but it was improving. Alanis and Gonzales played on the first Mines team to go to the RMAC tournament. Today the team has been RMAC regular-season champs four times, won the RMAC tournament once and made three NCAA Division II tournament appearances.
“After we went to the tournament, things started to change,” Alanis said. “The coaches could bring in talent because we weren’t just a nerdy school, we had a good softball program. They’ve come a long way. To keep a winning team, you have to have a place where people want to play.”
Siggins said the fundraising campaign is about more than upgraded facilities. “We need women to feel like they belong at Mines—that they can stay at Mines and that they have the support they need,” she said. “We believe in their futures, and these are just small ways that we can invest in those futures.”
To support the softball field renovations, visit goldmine.mines.edu/softballfield.