Press Box Confidential: Jack Coffey Field


Published: October 16, 2008

Commotion, collisions, screaming and cursing—and that’s just in the press box.

To cover Fordham University football from the press box atop the bleachers at Jack Coffey Field is to see a new perspective on the game—the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running and reporting on a team. The cramped facility for press, officials and coaches was built in 1990, when the field was renovated, and serves as the nerve center for games at Rose Hill.

The most unique, and possibly unnerving, fact about the place is the lack of separation between the coaches and the press. Usually two to three coaches from each team work in the box calling plays, making adjustments and generally yelling like they’re trying to force a brain aneurysm. At most fields, each staff gets a separate room at either end of the press box, but at Coffey Field, there is only a small partition. Every play call, every celebration, every outburst
is audible.

“[Hearing the coaches] is definitely an issue we think about and are aware of,” said Bobby Coyle, CBA ’09, one of the announcers for football broadcasts on WFUV, the Fordham radio station. “Obviously you don’t want profanity of any kind getting on the air. That being said, there is only so much you can do. Worst case scenario, they hit the ‘dump’ button back in the studio, and the last ten seconds of airtime will get cut. Overall, though, I’m sure if you listen close enough, you may hear profanity in the background from the coaching booth from time to time.”

But coaching isn’t all about profanity-laced outburst. Positivity goes a long way, too.

“During a game against [University of] Rhode Island, the coaches were saying to the head coach, ‘I think we’re doing well. We just need to stop reflecting on the past and move forward,’” said Robert Benson, who tracks statistics for Fordham football games. “This was during a Sunday game where they were losing 16-0.”

According to Joe DiBari, sports information director for Fordham University, between 20 and 40 press passes are issued per game, depending on the opponent. An early season, non-league game against a team such as Marist College offers a roomier environment and better access to the press box buffet table.

On the other hand, a marquee match-up like last season’s veritable Patriot League Championship game against College of the Holy Cross will fill the place. But the commotion of the workers and coaches upstairs only enhances the excitement of the game below.

“For me [hearing the coaches] pumps me up, but it can also be quite funny or entertaining, especially if I remove my headset real quick to hear it,” said Coyle. “But I also think it shows their passion and intensity, and in football that’s crucial. Plus it allows us to paint a better picture for our listeners.”

But despite of the lack of space, Fordham is a first-rate home for football.

“Jack Coffey [Field] is one of the best facilities in the New York City area,” said Benson. “With all the upgrades in recent years, from lights to new turf and a scoreboard, this is truly a great place to take in a game.”

And from the new turf all the way up to the press box, Jack Coffey Field has gained a special aura with its latest addition: a Patriot League Champion banner. That’s something worth screaming and yelling about.