Cornell dedicates Van Metre Field at Ash Park
Dave Van Metre looked onto the football field during Cornell’s first home game of the season, closely watching each play.
The stadium–filled with purple and white-uniformed players and the train blaring its whistle as it passes–is just as he remembered it.
“It hasn’t changed any,” he said with a laugh. “[The train] is an integral part of this field.”
Dave remembers spending his boyhood days at Cornell’s athletic facilities, playing all sorts of games and telling stories. He grew up just a couple of blocks from campus. On Sept. 8, 2018, he returned to see the football field named in honor of his family.
“It means a great deal. I have a soft spot in my heart for Mount Vernon,” Dave Van Metre said. “It’s one of these towns where, when you are 17, you can’t wait to get out. When you come back a few years later you say ‘wow this is a nice place to live.’”
Dave Van Metre and members of the Van Metre family donated more than $1 million to renovate the stadium for the campus and greater local community.
“We are honored to be in the presence of Mr. Dave Van Metre and his family tonight,” said Keith Hackett during the dedication ceremony held right before kick off. “All 27 members of the Van Metre family, spanning four generations, are here as part of the dedication. Tonight, we have the first opportunity to play in a recently completed grandstand facility with a renovated press box, outstanding new video scoreboard, beautiful fence that surrounds the property, and a soon-to-come new concessions and restroom facility.”
The ceremony also included naming Dave and his sister-in-law, Celia “CeCe” Lynch Van Metre, as honorary alumni and bestowing Dave with the title of honorary coach of the game for the coin toss.
“Dave has a deep affection for both Cornell and Mount Vernon and his philanthropy has benefited both Cornell and the Mount Vernon community, including the high school and the school district,” said President Jonathan Brand during the on-field presentation. “In so doing, Dave has also strengthened the town-gown relations.”
Mount Vernon High School will continue to use Van Metre Field at Ash Park for many of its football games, and it will also have a space reserved for storage and supplies in the new concessions building.
Dave says this project is something that could attract future Cornellians and will mean a lot to current Rams too.
“I think good facilities bring a lot of pride to the kids when they run out onto the field,” he said.
The 1922 stadium has held many years of great games. Now, it’ll hold many more with a new name and that familiar train whistle that seems to cheer on the Rams right along with everyone in the stands.
About the Van Metre family:
The Van Metre family has a storied history with Cornell College with ties to the college that go back decades. Dave Van Metre, who grew up in Mount Vernon, has fond memories of tossing a football on Cornell’s campus with his boyhood pals and later in life with grandsons. He and his late wife, Carol, have dedicated a lot of time to fixing up athletic facilities in a variety of cities throughout their lives. Donating in addition to Dave are his sons Jim (with wife Stacey) and David (with wife Robin), his sister-in-law Celia “CeCe” Lynch Van Metre, and her three sons, Doug (with wife Molly), Craig (with wife Donna), and Kent (with wife Susie) and their children.
Dave Van Metre’s father, Douglas U. Van Metre, served as a Cornell College Trustee and college treasurer for the Board. Dave’s mother, Mary Van Metre, was the first children’s librarian at Cornell. Dave’s brother, Douglas C. Van Metre ’50, was a Cornell College Life Trustee, football player, and assistant football coach. Uncle Joe Meade was the dean of men and Aunt Harriet Meade was the director of physical education for women at Cornell. CeCe’s grandfather, Charles J. Lynch, attended Cornell in the 1890s. She is also the niece of Ruth Lynch McCutcheon, a Cornell Life Trustee and honorary alumna. Ruth’s husband, James McCutcheon, was a past editor of the Mount Vernon-Lisbon newspaper.