You can almost hear the whispers in the early morning March breeze.
“If you build it, they will come….”
For years and decades, Fayette High School played their spring sports in the town park that used to be in the valley below the school complex.
The old school has been replaced by a new and improved model just south of town.
The same can now be said of a major spring sports complex, located on the campus grounds, that second-year athletic director Dylan Henricks hopes will help bring an enthusiastic aura to baseball, softball and track in the community.
“When I took the job in July of 2017, the plans were already in place,” explains Henricks. “We were looking at expanding the opportunities here at Fayette.
“I guess if you would’ve looked out there before March or April that year, all that was, was a hay field out there. So when I took the job they were moving dirt and the plans were in place of the layouts and where we wanted fields and our track.
“Superintendent Belcher had everything planned out and headed everything up. He’e been really good at bringing me along side being I graduated from college and didn’t have a lot of experience dealing with contractors and how to have those conversations and what to expect. He’s done a tremendous job of helping me out in having the conversations needed to build a complex like this.”
Henricks was a three-sport athlete at Evergreen, and after being a two-time All-NWOAL pick as a shortstop, took his talents to Huntington College in Indiana, where he was a four-year starting infielder.
It’s no secret that baseball was his biggest love athletically and the Eagles’ new complex will maintain that affection.
The scenic facility is complete with separate press boxes for baseball and softball.
“Playing baseball in college and coming into the position I have here, it was kind of a match made in heaven if you really think about it,” smiled Henricks. “Playing on and seeing many other fields and facilities and then being involved in a new complex and situation here, it’s really been fun picking things out and getting it the way we want it here at Fayette.”
There are also three youth fields, each with different fence dimensions so that three different age group games can be played at the same time.
“The idea we had here is that we wanted these fields to be available for the kids right at the school,” stated Henricks. “This way they don’t have to get rides to the park after school. They can walk out these doors after school and have these amazing facilities to use. It’s been really cool to see this grow from essentially a hay field to what we have out here now.”
The Eagles also have an all-weather eight lane track, granting the chance to hold the Buckeye Border Conference meet, and future invitationals that will attract teams from northwest Ohio to the new complex.
“Our ultimate goal now is to get the kids involved more and increase our numbers in our spring sports,” said Henricks. “Because of our current numbers, it’s important too for our dual sport athletes as well. Those athletes that are capable of playing either baseball or softball AND doing track will have it easier to go from one practice to another having facilities right next to each other. They can go maybe 100 yards or less, from softball or baseball to on the track.
“It’s been a little easier to get kids to play multiple sports now because everything is right there for them, and the coaches all have been great about that.”
It has been a number of years since the Eagles have had any kind of success in spring sports, but Henricks totally believes that the new facility will change that.
“The community has been very supportive, without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we have done and are continuing to do here,” he said.
“What I’m really excited about is the three youth fields, because ultimately that’s where it all starts. You have to have a solid foundation with your youth programs in order to achieve the things you want to achieve at any level.
“That’s the biggest thing is getting these kids excited about playing and getting these kids out on the track during gym class since it’s right outside our door, and getting them interested. It all starts with the youth programs and like I said, the community and everyone here is excited about getting our kids on these fields and sparking that interest. Hopefully that can lead to more success down the road.”
It’s being built…time for the whispers from the hay field to turn to cheers everywhere from the vantage point on the hill outside left field at the baseball field, to those surrounding the fence line of the track.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org