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  • Writer's pictureMatt Colville

Library Field – Spring Hill College Badgers


Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Library Field Ave of The Oaks Mobile, AL 36608



Year Opened: 1981

 

Soccer Under the Oaks


Spring Hill College is a small Jesuit College located in Mobile, Alabama. The College opened its doors in 1830 with an enrollment of only 30 students. Today the College has about 1,400 students and is the oldest college in the State of Alabama. It is one of the oldest colleges in the South and the fifth oldest Catholic college in the U.S.


Nicknamed the Badgers, during the 2014-15 school year the school moved up to D2 and joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) after competing in NAIA since 1981. The Badgers currently sponsor 18 NCAA sponsored sports, all in the SIAC, except men’s and women’s soccer which are in the Gulf South Conference. Since joining the GSC the men’s soccer team has had some success advancing to the Gulf South Conference tournament three times (2018, 2019, & 2021). The best season for the Badger’s men’s team was in 2018 when they won the GSC and advanced to the D2 NCAA tournament for the first time ever. Heading into the 2022 season the men’s team has a 54-59-1 record since joining the NCAA. The women’s team on the other hand hasn’t had as much success – since joining the GSC the women have only won 10 games in 7 seasons.


The Badgers soccer clubs compete on campus at the beautiful Library Field. Nestled among hundred-year oaks and azalea bushes, the field is an excellent place to take in a soccer match just for its scenic surroundings alone. Coming to a soccer match here, or just coming to the Spring Hill campus in general, it’s easy to see why this college has been voted by Southern Living Magazine as the number one most beautiful college in the South.


Beautiful Avenue Entrance to Spring Hill College Campus, Photo by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Food & Beverage 1

Library Field is basically just a giant open field so there are no permanent or temporary concessions here on site. As the soccer match just takes place in a big open field you are free to come and go as you please, and you are allowed to bring food and drinks. There are also several picnic benches scattered around the pitch with people sitting down having a bite to eat. But my recommendation as it could be a hot day would be bring some water, as they do not sell any and none of the campus buildings were open on my most recent visit, to get to a water fountain.


Atmosphere 4

Spring Hill College is known for its sprawling and scenic campus. From the over 100-year-old buildings to the many azalea and rose gardens, walking around the campus can be quite breathtaking. At almost 200 years old the college has remained virtually unchanged since the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. The whole campus sits on a big hill overlooking the city, and the views can be quite stunning as you pull up and see the beautiful St. Michael’s Cathedral overlooking Mobile.


But the most awe-inspiring part of the Spring Hill campus has to be Avenue of the Oaks. If you come into campus on the north side you drive right down this road; this quarter mile stretch of road has been deemed one of the top photographed spots in the state, and even the South for that matter. Thousands of giant hundred-year-old oak trees cover both sides of the road, providing a canopy over the road blocking almost all sunlight. At the end of the road sits the giant Stewartfield House, which was built in 1849 and now serves as a wedding venue.


Avenue of the Oaks runs north and south on campus, and there are giant fields on both sides of the road – these are Library Field to the east and Dorn Field to the west. Library Field is a huge rectangle-shaped field where the Badgers’ men’s and women’s soccer programs play. The pitch has a beautiful backdrop with Avenue of the Oaks providing the view on the west side, while three historic school buildings provide the backdrop on the east side. The school’s library is the biggest of the three and the one that stands out the most – perhaps that’s how the field got its name.


On the north side of the field sits a small scoreboard and a small four-foot wall with ivy wrapped around it. On the south side is a small parking lot as well as the Badgers beach volleyball facility. The team benches are located on the west side with the teams sitting under the giant oaks. The east side features one set of small metal bleachers, which end up getting packed out with fans so it is kind of crammed. There is additional seating on some picnic benches scattered around the field, or you can go sit on the steps of the Byrne Library which I saw many people doing. You are also free to bring chairs and tents to the game which I saw people doing as well.


Neighborhood 3

Spring Hill College is located in a residential area of Mobile, but this is also one of Mobile’s oldest neighborhoods. The campus is located on Dauphin Street just west of downtown Mobile. Along the way on Dauphin Street are many beautiful antebellum homes, many of which are available for touring. The campus is located in a residential neighborhood so there isn’t much in terms of things to do. However, you are only a few miles west of downtown Mobile, and downtown has plenty restaurants and nightlife options worth checking out. Just take Dauphin Street a few miles east and you’ll run right into downtown Mobile – that far end of Dauphin Street is filled with plenty of restaurants and bars.


Fans 4

Spring Hill College is a very small private college where many of the students live on campus. This works out great for the Badgers sports teams, as they have large student support and often get a lot of student turnout for all their teams. The school hasn’t fielded a football team since 1941, so students make up for lack of a football program by showing up in great numbers for all the other sporting events on campus. Because people can come and go it’s hard to get a count on attendance, but I would say at any given time there are a couple hundred people in the vicinity.


When the men’s soccer team is playing expect to see almost the entire women’s soccer team in attendance watching, and when the women’s soccer team is playing, almost the entire men’s team is there as well. At the most recent game I was at, school had just started so I saw many students and a few baseball players looking on. Many of the soccer players at Spring Hill are from other countries, so one thing I liked was that they bring their own customs and traditions over. You’ll find many fans with flags from their home country or favorite European team. Many fans will engage in different chants, and they always get rowdy when the Badgers score – this definitely makes up for the lack of a PA announcer and music, as there aren’t any at Library Field.


Access 3

Finding Spring Hill College shouldn’t be a problem as the campus sits just off I-65. If traveling north and south the interstate will be your best bet. There are two main entrances into the campus, one from the north and one from the south. The south entrance is the faster entrance into campus – you can take Exit 4 at Dauphin Ave and the road to campus is right there. You’ll have to travel through the golf course, but you arrive where all the main buildings are. For the scenic entrance you can take Exit 5A at Spring Hill Road, and then get on Old Shell Road and the north side of campus is right there. The Avenue of the Oaks entrance is at Old Shell Road.


There is plenty of free parking on campus. If you come from the south side there is a main lot right there by the baseball field; there is also a lot on the south side of Library Field, near the Beach Volleyball Court.


Return on Investment 3

Tickets are free, parking is free, and just by coming here you are on one of the most gorgeous college campuses in the South. You won’t be blown away by the action on the field, but the scenic setting more than makes up for it. Also, all the different fans who are in attendance make it a great experience and something different than I was expecting. I was pleasantly surprised to see European soccer fans chanting and flags flying from different countries at a D2 soccer match.


Extras 3

Spring Hill has a number of historic athletic facilities on campus as well. The Badger Baseball team plays on the south side of campus at historic Stan Galle Field. Nicknamed “The Pit”, the ballpark officially opened in 1889, but baseball is believed to have been played on the field dating back to the 1860s, making it the oldest continuously used ballpark in the country.


Stan Galle Field, Photo by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


The Pit has played host to multiple MLB exhibition games and has welcomed the likes of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Satchel Paige, and Billy Williams – all have all played on Spring Hill’s campus over the years. The Pit is about a 5-minute walk from Avenue of the Oaks and I definitely recommend a walk over the historic field if you are on campus. The gate to the field was open on the day I last visited, so I was able to walk out on the field and get some pics. The backdrop of the field is gorgeous with the historic Lucy Administration Building providing the view.


The Badgers also have a historic football program as well. From 1901 to 1941 the Badgers played at Dorn Field, which is the other field located along Avenue of the Oaks. They competed in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Dixie Conference. Dorn Field played host to some early versions of the big-time college football programs we see today – Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, and Southern Miss all visited the Spring Hill campus during the 1920s and 30s. The Spring Hill Club Rugby team uses the field now, but there is a small section of wooden bleachers still left over from when the Badgers had a football program.


Another extra just for the beauty that is Spring Hill College – from Avenue of the Oaks to the Stewartfield Mansion, to the beautiful St. Michael’s Cathedral and Southern architecture, Spring Hill College is something straight out of a William Faulkner novel.

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