A tour with New Richmond High School athletic director Casey Eckardt last week showed that the athletic facilities at the new high school are progressing nicely.
All of the facilities appear that they will be ready for their seasons for the 2010-11 school year. The first athletic activity at the new school will take place Monday, when the weight room is opened to the Tiger Strength program.
It might be easiest to break down the facilities by sport.
The Tiger football team will have two practice fields behind the new high school. This is part of a large green space that is being shared with the soccer team. This green space is located adjacent to the varsity softball field.
The football team will continue to play its games at the old high school field. There is a track/soccer field/football field that has been built into the new facility. It will be used for track practices and for varsity soccer games. Because there are not lights at the facility and won’t be for the foreseeable future, the football games will continue to be played under the lights on the old field.
Soccer will practice and play its games at the new school. The games will be played on the field inside the track. The track is a broken-back style track, which is a bit wider than the conventional style. This allowed space for the football field and soccer field to be placed inside of the track.
Tennis will play on the new courts at the high school this fall. There are 10 courts on the tiered area, four on the upper tier and six on the lower tier. When New Richmond hosts tournaments, they will also use the courts at the old high school, giving them 18 courts to use.
Volleyball will have three full courts available in the new gym. For games, the freshman and JV teams will be able to play at the same time. When their games are done, the bleachers can be brought in further, with the varsity playing at center court.
Cross country will start its practices from the high school. The cross country meet course will remain at Paperjack Elementary for at least one more year. That will give the coaches time to decide whether to design a course for the new school grounds or continue with the Paperjack course.
New Richmond has been badly in need of more gym space for several sports, particularly for basketball. The new gym answers that need. The gym is immense, with room for three full basketball courts. There are 18 basketball hoops located around the gym.
After having the smallest gym in the Middle Border Conference for years, New Richmond will now have the largest. Eckardt said the estimate for the capacity of the new gym is in the area of 2,400 spectators.
The Tiger wrestling team will now have one of the largest wrestling rooms in the area, with room for two full mats. There are also two mats in the gym. The mats will be on mechanical storage systems. When they are rolled up, they will be pulled up for storage near the ceiling.
The four new mats caused a challenging problem. Mats need to cure for a month before they can be used. After searching for that much space, Eckardt contacted the realtor working with the County Market store. The owner of the store allowed the schools to use that space so the mats could be rolled out and cured.
The Tiger baseball team will now be playing its games at two new fields on the school complex. The baseball fields are located at the west end of the complex near the County Market structure.
The infields on both fields are packed with thick, lush grass. The outfields were seeded and coming along nicely. Most of the sports fields were seeded two years ago, so they have had plenty of time to get established before they will face the pounding athletic teams can deliver.
Eckardt said Bob Parent, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, and his staff have worked meticulously to make sure that everything will be ready.
The softball team has two fields. The varsity field is located just north of the gym. The JV field is located just to the south, past the football and soccer practice fields.
Baseball and softball will also have drop-down batting cages that store in the ceiling of the gym, so they can work on their hitting any time during the year.
The track teams will practice on the new track at the high school. Eckardt said the smaller invitational meet the Tigers host will be held at the new track. Because there are no lights at the new field, the New Richmond Relays will continue to be held at the old high school track.
One of the most impressive features at the high school is the new weight room. It is huge, especially compared to the cramped space at the old high school that used to be the school stage.
All of the equipment in the weight room is new. Eckardt said that purchasing many demonstrator models, the school was able to save a considerable percentage on the cost. He said the original cost of all the equipment would have been $125,000 and the district paid less than $86,000 for all of it.
The equipment is state of the art, including squat racks, a glute machine, a leg press, a hamstring machine, two cardio treadmills, two elliptical machines and two stationary bikes. There are also hundreds of free weights and a row of weight benches for the athletes’ use.