St. Paul's School celebrated the opening of its new athletic facility and honored the legacy of two legendary teacher-coaches on May 4 with the dedication of George L. Mitchell '44 Stadium and the re-dedication of Martin D. "Mitch" Tullai Field.
"St. Paul's students learn valuable lessons in the classroom and on the athletic fields. This sparkling new stadium provides an appropriate venue for our student-athletes to learn those lessons," said Headmaster David C. Faus. "We are proud to honor two individuals who helped establish the teacher-coach ethos that remains integral to a St. Paul's education."
Highlights of Mitchell Stadium include:
- Expanded and modernized grandstand seating for 1,000 spectators, including a central section of chairs with armrests and seatbacks;
- A new and expanded press box that supports games on both St. Paul's and SPSG's athletic fields;
- Team locker rooms inside the stadium;
- Expansive plazas at the northwest and southwest corners of the field that provide informal viewing and gathering areas for spectators;
- Infrastructure for future addition of bathrooms and stadium lights that will enable evening use of the fields.
"These are much-needed improvements to an aging facility that will enhance the safety and comfort of everyone who attends or plays in a game at St. Paul's," said Athletic Director Paul Bernstorf.
The stadium is named in honor of the late George Mitchell, a 1944 graduate, who earned nine varsity letters at St. Paul's. In 1956 he joined the School's faculty and, over a 32-year career taught English, history, and economics and coached lacrosse, football, tennis, and basketball. His varsity lacrosse teams amassed more than 200 victories and 10 MSA A Conference championships. He is recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by the St. Paul's Alumni Association, and the School's Best Athlete Cup is named in his honor.
Members of the Mitchell and Tullai families, along with dozens of former players and colleagues, attended the dedication ceremony, which was held before the varsity lacrosse game in conjunction with Alumni Weekend. Coach Mitchell's sons, Steve '83 and Geordie'78, both made remarks on behalf of the family, noting that their father would not have wanted the attention that comes with having his name on a stadium. But, Steve said, George would have accepted the honor of having his name linked with that of his long-time colleague and friend, Mitch Tullai. Steve noted that the two men were inseparable during their eight decades at St. Paul's, that their friendship endured after both men retired, and that now they will remain joined in name and in memory whenever student-athletes practice and compete at the School's new athletic venue.
St. Paul's primary athletic playing field was first named in honor of Martin D. "Mitch" Tullai on Nov. 7, 2003, marking the 50th anniversary of his 1953 appointment to the School's faculty. He taught U.S. history, served as Director of Upper School Admissions and Athletic Director and coached football and basketball. His varsity football teams won 11 MSA, Tri-County, and MIAA Championships. In 1992 he was named an Honorary Alumnus by the St. Paul's Alumni Association; the Upper School history prize and Head Coaches Cup are named in his honor.
Mr. Tullai remarked that Tullai Field's original dedication had taken place during halftime of a football game, and that referees curtailed the ceremony before he had a chance to speak. The re-dedication provided an opportunity to redress that historic wrong, and Mr. Tullai regaled an appreciative crowd of former students and colleagues with a characteristically humorous account of his time spent in St. Paul's classrooms and playing fields.
The stadium renovation was fully funded by generous contributions to the School's ongoing "We Are St. Paul's" Campaign. Now in its second year, the Campaign has raised $16 million toward its ambitious goal of $41 million in support of the School's people and programs.