University Park, Pa. — Penn State has received a pledge of $500,000 from William and Lee Beard as the lead gift for a new facility for the Nittany Lion softball team. In recognition of this gift, the field in the new softball facility will be known as Beard Field. Construction is expected to begin next spring, with a targeted completion date by the start of the 2011 season.
The Beards' gift is a significant step in the construction of a new softball facility, which is projected to cost approximately $10.2 million. The gift is among the largest made by individuals to support a Penn State athletic facilities project.
Plans currently call for the new facility to be built in the same location as Nittany Lion Field, the team's present home. The new stadium would have more than 1,000 permanent seats as well as clubhouses, coaches' offices, locker rooms, a training room, media center and outdoor and indoor training areas.
"We are pleased to help support the Penn State softball program," Bill and Lee Beard said. "This softball field and the stadium are important parts of this program being attractive to young women who can benefit from being Penn State student-athletes. Coach Robin Petrini and her staff provide valuable leadership and need a first-class facility to help recruit national-caliber players to the program. We hope this contribution entices others to join us in providing the facilities needed to help the softball program reach its goals within the Big Ten Conference and nationally."
Lee Beard works with 20 Penn State campuses in her role as volunteer Vice Chair of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. During Penn State's Grand Destiny Campaign, she chaired the Hazleton Campus' Campaign Committee. When she is not volunteering for Penn State or Girl Scouts, Beard serves as a member of the Board of the Victory Funds and works as Principal for The Henlee Group which she formed after serving for more than a decade as President and CEO of First Federal Bank of Hazleton, Pa. The Henlee Group serves as a strategic adviser to community banks.
Prior to the couple's relocation to Pennsylvania in 1993, she worked in the banking industry in the Washington, D.C. area and was employed as a CPA for an international public accounting firm. Lee is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and is an honorary Penn State alumna, class of 1999.
Bill Beard has been affiliated with Penn State Athletics since 1995 when he volunteered as the assistant coach for one year and head coach for seven years for the Penn State-Hazleton softball team. Beard led the program to five consecutive championships before retiring in 2002. His teams earned a 256-32 record, with 11 All-Americans under Beard's leadership. Upon completion of his Penn State coaching career, he and other coaching volunteers worked for three years with Northeast Pennsylvania high school girls to improve their softball skills at an indoor facility he created.
Prior to the Beards moving to the Hazelton area, he had careers in residential and commercial real estate sales and management as well as the communication industry. Mr. Beard graduated from the University of Maryland after completing his military service.
"We are very excited to receive this lead gift for a new softball facility," stated Tim Curley, Director of Athletics. "Bill and Lee Beards' generosity allows us to move forward in bringing a first-class softball stadium to Penn State, the community and Central Pennsylvania."
Coach Petrini, who is entering her 14th season as head coach and has taken the Lions to seven NCAA Tournament berths in the last 10 years, is thrilled with the possibilities the Beard's gift presents.
"The Beards have been wonderful friends and supporters of the program since the day I arrived," Petrini said. "In fact, Bill was the first person I met on my first recruiting trip. Their support through the years has been tremendous.
"The Beards are helping us to move forward on a stadium that is long overdue," Petrini added. "For our student-athletes to finally have an opportunity to compete in a facility that is state-of-the-art, and on par with many of the schools we compete with, will be fantastic. The program has waited many years for this to come to pass and the Beards have been a catalyst in this process from day one."
A new softball facility on the Penn State campus not only will provide a major boost to the Nittany Lion program, but would also provide opportunities for Penn State to host high school, PIAA and NCAA Tournament competition.
Penn State just completed a successful Fall season, going 5-1 in its exhibition slate including a four-game sweep of the Nittany Lions' Fall Tournament last weekend. Penn State opens the regular season against Colorado State in Las Cruces, N.M. on Feb. 12, 2010.