Stadium at Kayo Field Dedicated to Kathy Zolad

Chris DiGeronimo, Sports Editor

On Monday, Dec. 11 University of New Haven Athletics dedicated the stadium that holds Kayo Field to Kathy Zolad, a member of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame and close friend to John and Leona Gehring, benefactors of the university.

The ceremony was held in front of an array of student athletes, Charger Rec staff, and members of Athletics. The ceremony started out with a musical introduction by the Chargers Marching Band and a brief introduction by President Kaplan. Following Kaplan were brief speeches by Philip Bartels and Rosa Gatti, who are both members of the University of New Haven Board of Governors. Gatti mentioned in her speech that she didn’t recall any other NCAA or professional stadiums being named after a woman, which made this dedication that much more special.

Senior women’s soccer team captain Kelly Quigley represented the student athletes by reminiscing on all the memories she has had playing on Kayo Field. In her own speech, Zolad thanked John and Leona Gehring for their longtime friendship and generosity.

“If you ever have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, I suggest that you do it, I encourage you to do it,” she said. “I can’t promise you a stadium, but I promise you won’t regret it.”

At the end of her speech, Zolad finished by saying, “sometimes working for free or volunteering is better than money.”

Kaplan presented Zolad with a plaque that will be posted on Boston Post Road that will guide patrons to the stadium.

Zolad is a decades long volunteer and leader in the sport of soccer. For over 30 years, she has been active in the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association where she served as president from 2003-15 and, before that, acted as executive director. She also  served as a chair of the Connecticut State Referee Committee, and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Wolves Professional Men’s Soccer Team.

She has volunteered for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team, Special Olympics, and has held a number of committee positions within the U.S. Soccer Federation. She also served as the local liaison for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup games held in Philadelphia, Penn. Zolad is the past president of the Soccer Club of Newington and former Commissioner of Newington Parks and Recreation.

“Kathy has a storied history in the sport of soccer, serving as a visionary leader and volunteer for decades,” Kaplan said. “Kathy has poured much of her life into youth soccer programs in Connecticut and around the country and is a fitting role model for our students.”

Zolad serves as a committee member and Chairperson for the Girls Division of the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, a program that identifies players of the highest caliber on a continuing basis, leading to increased success for the U.S. National Teams in the international arena. Her focus was geared towards the U.S. Women’s National Team Program. Thanks in part to her efforts, the U.S. Women’s National Team visited Connecticut in the 1990’s prior to the first ever Women’s World Cup, which was won by the U.S. Women. For her many achievements and contributions to the field of soccer, Zolad was inducted into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 2015.