Tony Ledvina ’14
Football recruit is already building for success at Schneider Stadium
Tony Ledvina ’14 will trade his hard hat for a football helmet when he runs onto the field with the Green Knights Sept. 4 in the opening game at the new Donald J. Schneider Stadium.
The 18-year-old running back, who grew up playing football in Green Bay, has a hand in bringing the state-of-the-art stadium to life as a member of the construction crew this summer.
“It’s cool working here and helping prepare for the season,” Ledvina says with a smile on a warm July morning while showing a visitor around the busy building site. The $11.5 million facility replaces the 70-year-old John R. Minahan Stadium, which the college decided could no longer meet the needs of the growing student-athlete population.
Working as a “laborer,” as Ledvina describes his position, brings better pay than other summer jobs, and he eagerly signed up when his father, a project manager for Miron Construction, discovered the crew needed help.
Not only the football players, but the soccer and track teams will have the benefit of the stadium, replete with a durable turf surface and polyurethane all-weather track and grass practice fields.
Although Ledvina has no college athletic experience to compare with the new complex, returning track star Emily Schudrowitz ’12 does. Up until now, Schudrowitz, who won the national indoor 800-meter title last year, did her outdoor training at West De Pere High School.
Remarkably, the men’s and women’s track teams include multiple NCAA national champions and Academic All-Americans despite the lack of a home track to date.
But it can only go up from here. Schudrowitz notes it will be nice not to have to share the field with high school students, and the track’s 400-meter length is more than double that of the college’s indoor track, where she did much of her intense training.
“The new stadium will help us even more because we will be able to practice specifically outdoor events, such as steeplechase, javelin and discus,” Schudrowitz says. “I’m very excited to be able to see the new track complete and am ready to run on it.”
Having a shiny new track also will be a good way to recruit runners. “I think if they are serious about track,” she says, “they’ll be excited about it.”
Likewise, women’s soccer co-captain Caitlin Carrigan ’11 says the new stadium will benefit the soccer program immediately, and down the road. “It’s an amazing facility, and we’re so fortunate to have it,” she says enthusiastically.
A Green Bay native and senior, Carrigan began her college career at another school where she played soccer. But she was unhappy and transferred after her first semester to St. Norbert. “I absolutely fell in love with it,” she says – and that included the soccer program.
She says the conditions of the grassy field behind the old athletic complex were subpar. “It’s harder to handle the ball,” she says. “As the new field is turf, after it rains players won’t be stuck in mud puddles and be covered in mud.”
It’s taken crews working 10 hours a day to get the field, the track, the seating and all the parts of the stadium completed on time. Most weekdays during the summer, Ledvina worked from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and then headed to football practice in the late afternoons.
Though he says many of his friends were jealous about his construction gig this summer, they couldn’t quite understand why he had to duck out early the nights they went out so he could get the rest needed for another day.
“I’ve learned to appreciate sleep,” he says with another smile, “but it’s been worth it.”