O'Hara Hall, the multifaceted athletic building in the southeast corner of the Academy, is named for Edwin J. O'Hara. O'Hara was the second Midshipmen to receive the Distinguished Service Medal, the Merchant Marine's highest honor, and the first to give his life while earning it.
O'Hara, an 18-year old Californian, was assigned to the Liberty ship Stephen Hopkins. The Stephen Hopkins was alone and traveling westbound in the South Atlantic in September, 1942, when it encountered two German commerce raiders. Though the Hopkins carried only one four-inch gun and other light armament, its crew decided to fight rather than to surrender. With his ship aflame and near sinking and with the rest of the crew killed, O'Hara began single-handedly loading and firing the ship's remaining shells. Astoundingly, O'Hara scored hits on both enemy ships, sinking one and damaging the other. When the Hopkins finally sank, O'Hara went down with her. O'Hara's medal was presented to his mother on March 15, 1943. One year later, and a dedication day was held in the building which would bear his name.
O'Hara Hall serves as the home arena for the men's and women's basketball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's volleyball, and wrestling teams. Physical education classes are also conducted in O'Hara Hall with a row of offices on the west end of the building accommodating the physical education and athletic department staffs. Construction in the late 1970's added a swimming and diving facility, wrestling room, lockerrooms, and racquetball courts. Recently, the lobby was refaced along with necessary construction to the front of the building to aid in O'Hara Hall's handicap accessibility.
Also located in O'Hara Hall is the Thomas J. Hughes and Robert J. Lavinia Conference Room, donated by the two Alumni, for Physical Education and Athletic Department meetings and conferences. Located downstairs is the team media room, locker rooms, and equipment room. In addition, O'Hara Hall is home to the Kings Point Athletic Hall of Fame and the Blue and Gray Fitness Center.
On Wednesday, October 10, 1990, O'Hara Hall took on a new look when the gymnasium was dedicated to Captain James Walter Liebertz, Director of Athletics at Kings Point from 1950-1972. Liebertz began his Kings Point career as head coach of the track and field team in 1945. Two months later, he became an Assistant Athletic Director, and on January 1, 1950, Liebertz was named Director of Athletics, a position he held for over 22 years. As the Kings Point Director of Athletics, Liebertz was responsible for increasing the varsity athletic program from five sports to 16 varsity teams. He fought for and saw the split sea year program implemented and also began the tradition of the Annual Varsity Awards Dinner.
The football, soccer, and lacrosse field, set inside the Academy's newly surfaced eight lane track, is named for the first Superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Captain James Harvey Tomb. His background features the successful blend of two maritime careers; 27 years as a naval officer and 15 years as an educator of Merchant Marine Midshipmen.
An Annapolis graduate and expert marksman, Captain Tomb had a distinguished naval career that included command of the former coastal liner Aroostook during the laying of the 'North Sea Mine Barrage,' which bottled up the German fleet in World War I. Retiring from service in 1925, he was named head of the New York State Nautical School.
As a member of the 1930 Committee on Training of Merchant Marine Officer Personnel, he strongly supported the need for a national shoreside training facility. In 1939, when the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was searching for an Atlantic Coast location, he allowed the cadets to stay temporarily at his New York Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx.
In the summer of 2000, Tomb Field received a "face-lift" with the installation of FieldTurf's state-of-the-art synthetic system. While most turf systems are simply a carpet with an underpadding, FieldTurf is a synthetic turf designed to create an artificial surface that duplicates the conditions of real grass. This surface looks like grass, feels like grass, and plays like grass. The turf is nonabrasive and allows athletes to slide, pivot, and twist their cleats in the surface.
Adjacent to Upper and Lower Roosevelt Fields stands Brooks Field House. The Field House contains a fully-equipped athletic training facility and the football and baseball lockerrooms. Officially, Brooks Field House was dedicated on May 1, 1996 before nearly 125 Kings Pointers. Jack Brooks '44 made possible the full interior renovation of the Field House through an endowment gift to the Athletic Association. Brooks, a native of San Francisco, graduated from the San Mateo, CA Cadet School, a pre-Academy training facility, in 1944 prior to going to sea. He currently is a successful marine engineer, real estate developer, lawyer, and part owner of the NFL's Oakland Raiders.
Pre- and post-game treatments, as well as pre-game taping, are performed here. All physical therapy for these teams are done here and all post-operative rehabilitation is done in this athletic training room.
The Brooks field house athletic training room is the satellite facility for men's soccer and baseball teams. This facility has separate treatment, hydrotherapy, rehabilitation, and taping areas. The treatment area is equipped with an electrotherapy unit, two ultrasound units, compression unit and a hydrocollator. Two whirlpools and an ice machine are located in the hydrotherapy room. Pre- and post-game treatments, as well as pre-game taping, are performed here. All post operative rehabilitation is done in the O'Hara athletic training room.