Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede (left) and Township Director of Recreation Jeffrey Plunkett (right), present Albert L. Cowell’s son, Al Cowell (center), with a plaque at the rededication ceremony of Cowell Field in Hamilton’s Veterans Park. Photograph courtesy of Hamilton Township.
Perhaps it is fitting that in the middle of Hamilton’s Veterans Park sits a soccer field named in honor of a World War II veteran who greatly contributed to area athletics.
The late Albert L. Cowell was a U.S. Army First Sergeant of the 114th Infantry who served in Europe during World War II. Later, he would become a member local VFW Post #3525 and American Legion Post #31. In addition to his professional career with Kraft Foods and then Shop Rite, Cowell was deeply involved in sports and recreation – as one of the founders of Babe Ruth Baseball and the Hamilton Little Bigger Soccer League, an inductee of the Mercer County Soccer Hall of Fame member for his coaching, a member of the Mercer County Old Timers Soccer Hall of Fame, was involved in one of the first Mercer County youth travel soccer efforts and who as President of the local VFW’s booster club, helped to sponsor many youth athletic teams.
To ensure that the field that bears the name of this World War II veteran endures as a fitting tribute to his legacy, Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede – herself a soccer player in both township recreational and travel teams – recently joined with members of the Cowell family to officially rededicate the field following a series of recent upgrades to the facility.
Upgrades to Cowell Field
“Albert Cowell sacrificed for our county and for youth athletics — particularly youth soccer,” explains Mayor Yaede. “We wanted to preserve his great legacy by reinvesting in the soccer field, which will benefit our community’s children and bring competitive soccer matches and tournaments to our town.”
Hamilton Township has conducted a series of renovations to Cowell Field over the past year and a half, including a complete reseeding of the grass to improve the playing surface, portable soccer goals with surrounding nets to help contain balls that travel out of bounds, a surrounding field windscreen, new player benches and an official scorekeeper’s area, along with a new field score board, sound system and new elevated bleachers that can accommodate larger game crowds and offer new accessible seating.
In addition to soccer games, Cowell Field is also able to host field hockey and lacrosse games.
Competitive Tournaments and Tourism
Along with other athletic field upgrades in Veterans Park, Mayor Yaede and her administration not only hope to benefit local athletics, but are also working to capitalize on regional athletic tournaments that will brings visitors – and their wallets and pocketbooks – to Hamilton.
“In addition to our growing number of hotels, Hamilton Township is home to great restaurants, a variety of local retail and a growing number of family-friendly, recreational establishments. We are very confident that our reinvestment in Cowell Field and Veterans Park will pay dividends for our local economy,” says Mayor Yaede.
Hamilton’s Director of Recreation, Jeffrey Plunkett, worked along with Rutgers University Soccer coach Dan Donnigan and Rider University Coach Charlie Inverso (both with Hamilton roots) to secure a collegiate spring soccer game between their two teams that followed the rededication of Cowell Field. Additionally, at Veterans Park’s DeMeo Baseball Field, county and state high school baseball tournaments are already planned for the summer. Hamilton will also be working on promotional efforts that seek to benefit town businesses during visitors’ stay in the community.
Lasting Patriotic Legacy
On a field that honors a late World War II Army Sergeant inside a park that serves as a tribute to all veterans, maybe what is most fitting is that Cowell Field has – and will continue – to serve as the site for Hamilton’s “Patriot Games.”
The games are series double-header matches between Hamilton’s boys and girls high school soccer teams. For its inaugural series held last fall, teams wore red, white and blue socks during the games and sold T-shirts as a fundraiser to benefit the Hamilton Township Patriotic Committee. The Patriotic Committee – a local non-profit organization that promotes patriotism – has brought several monuments honoring veterans to the park since the mid-1990’s.
“Every time we hold a Patriot Games soccer match on this field, we will continue to honor Albert Cowell and every veteran who has sacrificed for our freedom,” says Mayor Yaede.