Soccer ball threatens professor’s car, fencing on field limited due to wind

Oct. 6, 2014

Ashley Thompson
[email protected]

Besides other cars and the speed limit, one UCCS professor had to watch out for another object while driving: a soccer ball.

Jim Burkhart, chair of the physics department at UCCS, was driving on Austin Bluffs Parkway in the right lane adjacent to Alpine Field, when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Burkhart instinctively swerved to the left lane to avoid being hit by the soccer ball hurtling from above.

“I was lucky there was no one in the left lane, or I would’ve side-swiped them,” Burkhart said. “My only concern is that if they didn’t do something, somebody might have an accident.”

Although Burkhart’s car was undamaged, the potential dangers of the new Alpine field still stand.

As many students may have noticed, a sizeable portion of the field remained unfenced until two weeks ago, though club and intramural sports, including soccer, utilizing the space prior to the completion of the netting.

Burkhart was not sure if the soccer ball came through the part of the fence that was unfinished or over the top of it. He expressed concern that even the finished fence may not prevent all balls from finding their way over the netting.

The fence is 15 feet high.

The head of the UCCS police department, Brian McPike, said the windy Colorado climate is the reason for the possibly inadequate height of the fence around Alpine Field.

“Based on what the recommendation was from the experts … there’s a wind resistance that you can only put a certain amount of netting up with,” he said.

“So the netting is as high as it can go based on professional recommendation.”

According to McPike, measures have been taken to ensure the field is as safe as it can be. The stairs are equipped with lights and motion sensitive cameras are installed around the field.

“The [Recreation Center] staff is highly trained on the camera system, and our dispatchers will also have access to those cameras, so we’ll be able to track any criminal activity,” McPike said.

Despite any threats to traffic the field may pose, both McPike and Burkhart believe that Alpine Field is good for the campus.

“It absolutely adds value. It’s an efficient use of space and a unique concept. There aren’t very many fields like it,” McPike said.