After 73 years, Eastern Washington University’s Woodward Field name will be replaced upon the stadium’s change to red synthetic turf
Back when Woodward Field was first named in 1937, synthetic turf was still some 30 years away from existence -- and 73 years from being produced in red.
With the impending installation of red synthetic turf that included a $500,000 contribution made by Michael and Katherine Roos, Eastern Washington University’s football field in Cheney, Wash., will be re-named to “Roos Field” this fall. The turf project is expected to commence this summer upon successful completion of the fundraising effort on behalf of the initiative.
Eastern made the announcement following naming approval by the EWU Board of Trustees that is contingent upon project completion. The Board of Trustees commended the Roos family’s philanthropic efforts on behalf of Eastern and the community through the Michael Roos Foundation. A former Eagle student-athlete, Roos is a starting left offensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans in the National Football League, and has started every Titans game in his five-year career. Roos excelled in the classroom as well, graduating with a double major in finance and economics.
“We are thrilled to be able to acknowledge in this manner the incredible contributions Michael and Katherine have made to Eastern Washington University,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves. “We felt this was the most appropriate honor we could give them, but at the same time, we regard highly the legacy left by Mr. Woodward. Regardless of the name change, we will permanently remember the Woodward family at our stadium.”
A plaque commemorating the 73 years Eastern’s football stadium has been named Woodward Field will be placed on the wall of the Donor Suites and Media Center at the stadium. The stadium originally was located where EWU’s library now stands, but was moved to its present site in 1967.
The stadium was named for Arthur C. Woodward, who was Eastern’s head football coach in 1927 and 1928. More importantly, Woodward was head of Eastern’s department of physical education and health for 23 years from 1927 to 1950. He was insistent that every interested student should have the opportunity to engage in competitive sports through intramural activities. He endeared himself to students, and, as a result, Woodward Field was named in his honor in 1937.
Woodward also established the physical education program at North Central High School in Spokane. During World War I, he was in charge of physical fitness work for the Navy in the Puget Sound area, and spent eight years as director of physical and health education for Tacoma public schools. Woodward passed away of a heart attack on Feb. 2, 1950, just a short time after attending a convocation and rally honoring the Eastern basketball team.
His son, Cheney native Dave Woodward, is 85 and now living in Pueblo, Colo. Dave went on to become a pioneer in scuba diving and in April 2009, was given the International Legends of Diving Award in Freeport, Grand Bahamas for his 54-year diving career. His start in that endeavor began after his father gave him a pair of new swim fins that were provided by the Voit Rubber Company, and he tried them out in the pool located in the basement of Eastern’s Showalter Hall.
“While the idea does bring a bit of sadness, I do understand,” said Dave Woodward in an e-mail to Chaves. “My father was a great person and a great asset to the University. The fact that stadium carried his name for so long emphasizes that.”
Chaves hopes to have Dave Woodward return to EWU for the dedication of Roos Field at a date to be determined.