The World Indoor Lacrosse Championships started on September 18, with much fanfare and continues through the weekend. The Onondaga Nation will host the tournament this year, marking the first time an international sporting event will be held on indigenous lands. To ready themselves for the Championships the Nation recently built a state-of-the-art multi-use facility to serve as an additional location for the games. The complex was fast-tracked through its first phase of completion in about 5 months thanks to the assistance of two Onondaga Community College Architectural Technology grads.
Vern Abrams ’99 and Andrew Kenneally ’15, both found themselves playing critical, yet different, roles with the project and consider themselves fortunate to be part of such a high-profile assignment. Abrams serves as the construction manager and owner representative for the Onondaga Nation, so it was his job to assist with design and hire the necessary firms for the job. “The intent of the building was to make it environmentally friendly, so we used natural wood and stone to mirror the look and feel of the surrounding space, so that it looked like it belonged there,” he said. To help make his vision a reality Abrams chose Heuber Breuer as the lead construction company who were charged with completing phase one of the plan prior to the start of the games.Little did he know it at the time of the hire, but by choosing Heuber Breuer, Vern would bring on a fellow OCC grad who was fresh off of celebrating his graduation in May. “I graduated on Saturday, and came to work for Heuber Breuer on Monday,” Kenneally said. His first tasks on the project involved general labor duties, but as the development of the space took shape Kenneally began to showcase other skills. “The education I received through OCC allowed me help bridge the gap between the architects and the people handling the construction, because it covers both areas of work, so I was able to speak their language,” he said. Thus, by the time the foundation was poured and the building was actually taking shape Kenneally was reading blueprints and was working with different crews on the job site.
Similarly, Abrams also found his education had provided everything he needed to succeed. “At OCC, the professors stress the importance of the process and preparation to a project so you have an understanding of how and why something is built rather than just building,” he said. Much like Kenneally, Abrams feels the design and technology structure of the architecture technology courses make the students more aware and well-rounded for the workforce. ‘The timeline for the complex was short so it was a huge test, but with my training the thought of not completing this on time never crossed my mind because I was organized,” he said.
With phase one complete, both Abrams and Kenneally were able to reflect on what they had done. “To be part of something like this for my people was really exciting and the finished product is something I hope they really enjoy,” Abrams said. The impact of his work really didn’t hit Kenneally until he saw it in action, “I watched a scrimmage at the complex before the games started and it was filled to capacity with everyone enjoying themselves which brought about a real sense of pride,” he said.
Equally as excited and proud were two OCC Architecture Technology professors who visited the site a few times to check in on their “students” and were very impressed. “We get them started and then they go on and grow on their own, which is such a source of pride,” Professor Ken Bobis said. His colleague, Jim Ruddock confirmed Bobis’ response with a smile. “This is the ultimate reward,” he said, “to see how they not only contribute great work, but do so by staying local is something no words can express.”
Abrams and Kenneally do not have much time to rest as phase two on the complex will start as soon as the games are over. Following that Abrams has some exciting upcoming projects in the design phase, while Kenneally will continue his education at SUNY ESF while working for Heuber Breuer in a full-time capacity.
To read about former OCC lacrosse players who are representing the Iroquois Nation during the games you can click here.