BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — After months of waiting, it’s time to play ball on many of the new athletic fields at Bristol Central High School, to the joy of many of the school’s fall athletes who will get a chance to use them at last.
“It’s good that the sports program is getting some much-needed help,” said Jocelin Donahue, a senior on the cross country and track teams.
The soccer teams have used the new fields for games and the football team is practicing on them. With the track completed, the cross country team is doing some of its running there.
Mike Gaughan, a senior on the cross country and tennis teams, said the new fields were worth all of the extra trouble. He was especially impressed with the improved drainage system.
“It rained the day before, and the fields were still dry that day. A definite improvement,” Gaughan said.
Chris Melinosky, a senior on the football team, was also impressed.
“It’s sure looking green out there,” he said.
The $1.75 million project — which will be duplicated at Bristol Eastern High School soon — was needed for a variety of reasons.
According to Athletic Director John Novakovski, “The fields drained very poorly, which caused some serious problems. When it rained, it took a long time for them to dry. The track was outdated, a stone dust track.”
So, last fall, construction started in the middle of the fall sports season.
When completed, Central will have a spiffy, all- \weather track, two regulation baseball fields, three regulation soccer fields, a football practice field, five tennis courts, a softball field, and a practice field located in the front of the building.
There were many complaints about the timing of the construction. Some people said the work should have started earlier so it wouldn’t have caused as much disruption.
Because of the project, all of the outdoor sports teams, including most of the fall and spring teams, had to be hauled in buses to alternative locations for practices and games.
“All teams were moved except cross country. Football was moved to Casey Field, the freshman team to Southside, boys soccer to Chippens Hill, girls to Rockwell, tennis and baseball to Page, the freshman baseball to Riley, and the track teams had to be combined at Eastern,” Novakovski said.
All of this meant extra time for getting on the bus, extra time for the bus ride to the field, extra time to wait for the bus to arrive at the field and extra time for the bus ride home.
It ended up that practices were lasting much longer than they had been before construction. In addition, sometimes bus drivers were misinformed on what time they needed to be at the school, and what team they were expected to bring. As a result, some teams were either left without a ride, or with an increasingly long wait.
This arrangement was, of course, a bit of a hassle for many athletes.
Josh Krampitz, a senior on the cross country and track teams, said that being transported to every practice and meet became “a little tiring and annoying after a while. I started to wonder if the track would ever be done.”
So was it worth all the aggravation?
The verdict is still out.
Margo Walerysiak, a senior on the girls soccer team, isn’t ready to heap the praise on the new fields just yet.
“Well, I think the wait was probably worth it,” Walerysiak said.
She said, “The sidelines are too crooked, but the grass is softer, and you don’t run into the baseball field anymore. They didn’t do that good of a job planning the fields, but they still are pretty nice. We kind of got used to the fields at Rockwell, and the fact that they were so bad helped us to be able to play on any field.”
Bristol Eastern, according to Novakovski, “should be started in the spring. Practices will be handled in much the same manner.” The fields used for the Central practices will probably also be used during the Eastern renovations.
At Central at least, there are some very relieved athletes who don’t have as many boring bus rides.
Collin Seguin is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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