At meet’s end, Athletic department, NCAA, and volunteers break down Hodges Stadium

Olivia Osland

As the stands cleared late Saturday, trails of trash appeared. Covered by spectators, volunteers, faculty, students and team members, UNF’s Hodges Stadium was in need of clean up from a weekend of track and field NCAA East Preliminaries. Within moments of the last event, volunteers at University of North Florida began to revive the stadium.

As the last 10 minutes of the three-day meet, members of the clean up team loaded carts with markers that had finished their races. They gathered plants that couldn’t withstand such a lively event and packed blank scoreboards into trailers. Instead of energized fans, flattened cups, foil balls, pizza boxes and empty Gatorade bottles filled the stands. Scattered trash replaced the bleachers’ shadows.

Volunteers and the UNF Athletics Department gathered to clean up the stadium until the end of the night. Carrie Driscoll, UNF’s head cheerleading coach, said all involved in the clean up supported one another. She said that contributed to finishing the clean up pretty quickly. UNF Associate Athletic Director Nick Morrow agrees and said team effort made the clean up possible.

But UNF volunteers weren’t the only ones helping. The NCAA itself pitched in a few hands, as well. Cody Brach, who works for Lynx, the company NCAA brings in to help with timing and results, praised Hodges Stadium’s facility and the UNF campus.

Flash Results, which works with Lynx and the NCAA to ensure the most precise timing for every event, has traveled with the NCAA since 1994 and witnessed some of the most diverse locations and energetic crowds. Tom Jennings, the president Flash Results, described the aftermath as “over the top” from Friday’s clean up and compliments UNF for such a smooth event.

“Facilities and event management were unusually good,” he said. “The facility makes our job easier.”

Jennings was one of the first to start the breakdown as he carefully and quickly reeled wires and chords running through the track’s underground compartments that the fiber optic system used.

NCAA paired with UNF Information Technology Services to make the fiber optic system possible for this event. UNF Assistant Director in Network Engineering Steve Lyon and Jim Edwards with ITS worked with the athletics department to record accurate timing for every athlete with the system, which was installed under the track to record accurate timing for every event.

Morrow said he expects UNF’s partner companies, which provided tents, bleachers and bathroom facilities, to remove the last traces of the event Tuesday, May 29.

Despite the mud tracks that were full of green grass earlier in the week, the help at UNF quickly brought back the life. Each person left in the stadium at the end of night had packed away flags, cones, and banners, while pilling up full trash bags.

UNF shows that teamwork is what does the most for UNF at the end of the event.

“Is it worth it?” said Dann Pitts, with facilities and operations for the athletics department, as he untied flags from the field posts. “I believe so. I hope so.”

“It’s tough to say at the end of the third day, we’re all so exhausted,” Morrow said. “But it’s absolutely worth it.”