WAKEFIELD — Two decades since the idea was first conceived for a first-rate athletic field for The Prout School students to play soccer and lacrosse, the field has now successfully been completed, blessed and dedicated.
The artificial turf field measures 195 feet wide by 330 feet long and offers seating for 500-600 spectators in a fenced perimeter with safety netting, brand field lighting and a digital scoreboard. Thanks to many generous donors, Prout is well on its way toward raising the $2.6 million needed to complete the project.
Following opening Mass for the 2022-2023 academic year — on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross — Bishop Thomas J. Tobin visited the school to celebrate Mass and to offer his blessing upon the new field.
In the presence of students, alumni, faculty, staff, clergy, diocesan representatives, Sisters of the Cross and Passion, and many generous donors, Principal David Estes offered his words of sincere gratitude as he looked out onto the green turf on a bright and breezy September day.
“After many years, and with the outstanding support of those around us and hundreds of donors, we stand upon a new multipurpose field that the Prout students and young people throughout Rhode Island can enjoy,” said Estes. “We are here today because of the loving commitment of donors who cared about this school, who cared about you to make this day a reality. Right at the top of that was our bishop supporting us throughout this project.”
The new field is named The Meghan C. Cooney Field, in memory of a 1996 graduate of The Prout School. Meghan died unexpectedly in 2007 while she was a third-year student at Boston College Law School. At Prout, Meghan was student council president and salutatorian of her class. She captained the soccer, basketball and softball teams and was selected first team all division in all three sports. She even served as captain of the boy’s tennis team in her junior year. Cooney’s mother Mary was in attendance for the dedication.
“Meghan’s spirit lives on here today and forevermore, the Meghan Cooney field, and those that play on it and those that cheer on it need to know the example that she set will live forward,” said Estes.
The head of school added that the stands will be named after Jean A. O’Neill, grandmother of recent graduate Aidan O’Neill and a fixture at her grandchildren’s games and artistic performances.
The athletic complex of The Prout School, including the fields and indoor facilities, has been named for V. Paul Winter AFSC.
“His life and character is a testament to his Catholic faith and we are honored to name it after him,” Estes explained.
Estes went on to offer his thanks to Bishop Tobin who has stood by this project from the beginning. In December 2019, the bishop presented the diocesan high school with a major gift of $100,000 to help make their dreams of breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art athletic field a reality.
“Your belief of this project was essential to its success to this day,” said Estes. “Please know that this field stands as a representation of that commitment to the evangelization of youth in this part of the state. These actions will not be forgotten and will always be cherished.”
As Bishop Tobin prepared to offer his blessings on their turf and take part in the ceremonial ribbon cutting, he offered his own words of thanks to everyone who worked hard to share their time, their talent and their treasure to make the field a reality.
“There will be a lot of teamwork involved in the sports that play on this field in the days and years to come. Indeed, there was a lot of teamwork to bring this to completion. Thanks to one and all who made this project a very successful one.”
With reports from Rick Snizek.