The Ambler Sports Complex poses pros and cons for teams.
When Jackie Krostek boards the yellow school bus outside of the Liacouras Center, she can’t help but wonder what the skit is going to be for the day.
The junior midfielder, along with the rest of the women’s soccer team, come up with skits to pass time during their rides to Ambler Campus, where their home field is located.
“We have lots of memories from riding on the bus,” Krostek said. “We do skits during the ride and have some fun.”
Since 2004, the Owls’ baseball, softball and soccer teams have called Ambler Campus home.
The spacious campus in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia has two soccer fields, a softball field, a baseball field and a state-of-the-art field house. Prior to 2004, all four teams played in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.
Temple’s soccer teams played at Temple Stadium, a field built in 1928 for the Owls football and soccer teams. By 2002, with only the Temple soccer teams using it, the stadium was reduced to a natural bowl with no actual seating.
Before moving to Ambler, the Owls baseball and softball teams played at Erny Field, which now hosts Arcadia University baseball.
Altogether, the four teams had fields that could hardly be called a home.
Though the move to Ambler in 2004 didn’t bring the four teams to North Philadelphia, it unified them at a common place.
“The facilities are gorgeous, with the field house and natural grass surfaces,” men’s soccer coach David MacWilliams said.
Although the Ambler fields boast up-to-date facilities and well-maintained fields, having a home field 16 miles from Main Campus creates pros and cons.
The distance from Main Campus creates a situation where student support for the teams is very limited.
“We don’t really have any student participation at games,” softball coach Joe DiPietro said. “That makes it kind of hard sometimes.”
Although Ambler’s location deters student representation, the local Ambler community has emerged to support Temple athletics.
“I have never coached at a school where attendance was really high, whether the field is on campus or not,” women’s soccer coach Matt Gwilliam said. “But the relationships the kids have made with the local Ambler area through volunteering with soccer camps and such things has brought people from the area to our games.”
With Ambler being outside of Philadelphia, the campus also provides athletes with a place of recluse.
Sophomore midfielder Ryan Bradbury agrees that the suburban setting provides a getaway from a hectic day in the city.
Along with a lack of student representation, Ambler’s off-campus location affects recruiting.
“I think [Ambler’s location] does deter possible recruits sometimes because they would rather play somewhere that has a field on Main Campus,” Bradbury said.
Most recently, the softball team lost a recruit to the University of Connecticut.
Though many of the schools in the Big East have facilities for Olympic sports on their main campus, not all do.
Cross-town rival Villanova plays their baseball games in Plymouth Township. Villanova Athletic Director Vincent Nicastro said that Temple’s situation isn’t all that uncommon.
“I think you will find a fairly wide range of facility locations across the Big East membership, as there are a number of diverse institutions that are rural, suburban, urban and et cetera,” Nicastro said.
But even with the Big East holding a diverse membership, few members are as situated as Temple is, in the heart of North Philadelphia.
DiPietro said that all coaches would agree that although home fields on Main Campus would be nice, the Ambler fields provide fantastic facilities and a true place to call home.
“I think any coach would agree that a field on Main Campus would be nice, but it isn’t the cards we’ve been dealt,” DiPietro said. “There are pros and cons to everything, and [at Ambler] we have gorgeous fields and facilities to play at.”
Colin Tansits can be reached at email@example.com.