An anonymous donor has spurred a campaign to update Rannells Field at Hampshire High School with artificial turf and a rubberized track.
The donation will cover “a substantial portion” of the project, which will come with a price tag of about $1.6 million.
“A project of this magnitude is currently the norm for athletic facilities,” HHS Athletic Director Trey Stewart said, “and this project will bring us up to the level of our competition.”
The plan and associated fund-raising will be presented to the school board at its June 24 meeting.
At the school board meeting on Monday several members of the Hampshire athletic community spoke on the current status of the playing surfaces, including Athletic Trainer Kari Williams.
“The health and safety of our athletes is what I care about, and I see so many athletes with shin splints due to our asphalt track with the condition that it is in,” Williams said. “There is also a safety issue caused by all the cracks, the deterioration of the track and the uneven lanes that lead to things like athletes falling, spraining knees, ankles, elbows, and arms.”
Williams also noted that several research studies have proven there is a direct correlation between athletic and academic success, and in turn success in life.
Head Track Coach Megan Fuller detailed the struggles of practicing on an asphalt track that was laid before 1983.
“I ran on this track over 20 years ago, and now as a coach, I realize how far behind we are as a facility in the realm of this sport,” Fuller said. “It is well known that our runners do not have a competitive facility appropriate to hold varsity meets and probably not appropriate to hold middle school meets as well.”
In addition to the rubberized track, turf is planned on the football/soccer field that will effectively eliminate the constant headaches caused by weather and over-usage often seen with natural grass surfaces.
A turf field will eliminate the cancellation of sporting events due to treacherous field conditions while allowing the facility to be used for more purposes, more often, including public use for walking and jogging.
The construction of a new track and field will directly benefit high school athletes as well as local youth organizations. The new facility will allow programs to host major events, including soccer tournaments, track meets, band competitions, sports camps and large ceremonies.
Although the proposal has yet to be presented to the board, some details of the project have been unveiled, including the installation of a 6-lane rubberized track, field turf for the football field, new goalposts and new soccer goals.
Perhaps the most important item of note regarding the project is the permission to setup an ACH fund, or Automated Clearing House, which would allow small donors to have amounts withdrawn from their accounts automatically each month.
Stewart said the fund will be separate from the Trojan Athletic Association.
The initial start-up date for the project will depend on approval by the board, and the construction is estimated to take 100-120 days for completion.
“I would like the board and the community to give us a chance to succeed,” Stewart said.