Smithton R-VI School District is due for a sports complex for track and field, soccer and softball next spring.
And while the plot of land west of its building looks like a frozen bowl of chili, salted by the first flurries of the year, Smithton Superintendent Matt Teeter has a detailed vision. He can already see the concession stands, parking lots and dugouts.
The complex is not one man’s dream, however. Teeter emphasizes that the project satisfies two focus areas of the Smithton strategic plan approved last December: Community pride and involvement and Buildings, grounds and safe environments.
“The data definitely supports that the more active kids are, be it in athletics or drama or band, whatever it may be, academically, they tend to excel more.”
For programs that practiced high jump with stages and seeded its own field, Smithton’s process in creating its sports complex was similarly pieced together.
The school sold its buses for $335,000 last December in favor of contracting that service. Smithton approved the acquisition of land from a nearby resident April 18, 2016 and completed its purchase July 1.
A bidding process began Sept. 26, 2016 and on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, the Smithton school board approved a $625,000 amendment to the 2016-17 budget for B & P Excavating to begin irrigation, moving dirt, asphalt and rubber. Fisher Tracks, which constructed tracks for Eldon and Glasgow earned the bid at Smithton.
Trish and Dave Holiway, head softball and track and field coaches, respectively, said the complex will foster growth in its programs, as well as make them safer.
Dave started a MSHSAA Track and Field program at Smithton in 2006, and had 12 student-athletes from grades 7-12 in its inaugural year. He had nearly 40 student-athletes in spring 2016. The program’s growth was a logistic challenge for three coaches managing students running loops around town, lifting weights downstairs or practicing shot put footwork in a storm shelter.
“We were certainly getting close to cap in how many kids we could serve,” Dave said. “Especially not having a facility, three coaches were getting spread out … With this, our enrollment will be our limit.”
Trish said having a softball field will bring pride to a softball program that shared its field with baseball in the same season. The dimensions of the field are for baseball, and the pitcher’s mound obstructed basic softball play.
“You won’t have to climb a mountain to throw to first base,” Trish said. “We have very late nights for home games. Softball plays after baseball plays … We had some games last year that went until 10:30 p.m., on a school night.”
Sean Hutchinson, head soccer coach and assistant track coach, said a soccer field will help build program credibility.
“Once people see our nice field and the nice complex around, people will get more interested in it,” Hutchison said. “I think everyone in the school was really excited. Coach, players, regular students, other staff, just everyone here is, from what I’ve heard, really excited and happy the community was so supportive.
“I think it’s going to help all of our programs. It’s more support here than what we’re used to.”
The Smithton Sports Complex is scheduled to be completed by spring 2018, but the soccer field should be serviceable by next fall. Lights, fencing, concrete and the softball field will be included in the Smithton R-VI School District budget for 2017-18.
An aerial view of the Smithton Sports Complex construction area dated Thursday, Dec. 1.