Lakewood soon to have 2 Fields of Dreams (slide show)

LAKEWOOD – The high school has one Field of Dreams and soon will have two.

The girls softball team is turning out on its new turf field, and if weather cooperates the boys baseball team’s field will be ready soon. Installing the turf there could start Monday.

Infielder and team captain Olivia Poulton called the new softball field “amazing.”

“We fell in love with it. We spent a few minutes before practice just looking at it and realizing how lucky we are,” she said.

Poulton said she is a big fan of playing on dirt infields, so, “It was a little sad to see the old one go.”

But she’s already liking the new one. “We get way better hops” on ground balls, she said. “It’s a complete game-changer for us.”

Assistant softball coach Dan Hutchison said the old fields were “tired. It was tough to play shortstop. Bad hops were inevitable,” he said.

He called the new field a “gem. They spared no expense.”

Hutchison said they used to have to drag equipment in and out of the school, but now there will be storage area. A machine that sweeps the turf will keep it in good shape.

Between the varsity and junior varsity softball fields there will be netting so people don’t get “clunked on the head with a foul ball,” said Dale Leach, director of learning support and operations.

Both Leach and Hutchison said they are thankful for the community’s support. “They came through and passed the bond when other districts couldn’t,” Hutchison said.

Leach, former Lakewood High School principal, remembers the bond passage well. The $66.8 million bond failed in February of 2014 by 32 votes but then just barely passed that April.

“It was so hard. We are so grateful and proud,” he said Wednesday.

The bond originally passed to fix up the old school, but then the district found out it could get a new one for an even better price. The high school bid came in at $48.5 million.

Because old bonds and levies were just paid off, taxpayers of a $350,000 piece of property only had to pay $14.92 a month more.

Leach said first the new high school was built with the stadium for football, soccer, cross country and track. “We hadn’t hosted a track meet in three years, and now we’re hosting the district meet,” he said.

The school has new gyms for girls and boys basketball and volleyball, and a wrestling room with new mats. Then came the tennis courts, which allowed for a new boys team last fall. The girls team is using it for its second season this spring.

“Every one of the programs has something new thanks to the community’s blessing,” Leach said.

He said because the school now has such beautiful facilities – including a commons and theater – there are community groups that want to use them. “We want to be gracious to the community, but also good stewards” of the facilities. “It’s a fine line to walk,” he said.

For example, the district wants the turf on the fields to last 15 to 20 years.

“We don’t want to go back to the voters” for more money because the turf has worn out, he said.

As for the baseball field, Leach said the recent snow put that project behind about 10 days. Even if they can start putting the turf down Monday, it will still take some time.

“We can’t just roll out the carpet. There’s a pattern to it,” Leach said.

After that, they need three days of dry weather to put the infield in. “We don’t know when we will get three straight dry days in March,” he said.

But once it’s done, there will be two Fields of Dreams to be proud of.

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