Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 39
Out with the old, in with the newHancock athletic facilities get a major facelift
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
When the Allan Hancock College baseball field was first built, it was only supposed to be temporary. Now, some 60 years later, the college’s baseball team still uses it—the same tired field with its myriad problems, namely sporadic irrigation.
Head baseball coach Chris Stevens said hard work and donations from volunteers and boosters over the years have helped make the field acceptable.
“The field is definitely not up to today’s standards and safety codes,” Stevens said in an interview with the Sun.
Soon enough, the Hancock baseball program will say goodbye to its “temporary” field and take up shop at the new field on the other side of College Drive. But the baseball field is just one of a few athletic facilities at Hancock receiving much-needed upgrades.
Part of the Measure I bond passed in 2006, a $180 million facilities bond was granted to Hancock for facility improvements. The project includes a new industrial technology building that will provide new space for several of Hancock’s industrial tech programs. Crews intend to construct the new building to the south of Building O, in the space presently occupied by the track and football fields.
According to the project prospectus, there were secondary effects of the industrial tech project that would impact the physical education programs at Hancock. In order to minimize impact, three options were considered.
Option one was to leave the baseball field, but the school would lose use of the track and football field. The second option was to relocate the current baseball field across the street and return the empty space to turf.
Option three included relocating the baseball field to across the street, reconfiguring the grass practice and soccer fields, and constructing new track and football fields. This turned out to be the best option, as it had the least amount of negative impact on the school’s athletic programs.
Hancock Athletic Director Kim Ensing said the athletic department was fortunate enough to become part of the project.
“We haven’t had access to these kinds of resources in a while,” she said. “It came down to getting the most bang for our buck.”
Ensing said that initially, the athletics department was close to not seeing any of the funds from the bond. But due to the current bid climate and “economy of scale,” including construction of the fields as part of the industrial tech project yielded the most benefits to the college.
She also noted that since the state rarely funds facility improvements, Hancock thought it would be most prudent to spend money on athletics. Upgrades to athletics had been discussed for years, but it always came down to money.
The prospectus indicates that the cost of field development will total $2.2 million; savings from combining the projects will total between $200,000 and $300,000.
Aside from the new baseball field, Hancock will build two full-sized soccer practice fields alongside the new track.
“The soccer fields will be repositioned,” Ensing said. “Irrigation will be fixed; all new grass will be put in, too.”
The old track, which Ensing said was dangerous and in dire need of repair, will now be replaced by a synthetic eight-lane track. Louie Quintana, head track coach at Hancock for 12 years, said the old track had seen at least 30 plus years of use.
“It was beat up, there were dips and holes, you could pull pieces off,” Quintana said, adding that the new track is a big plus for the program.
The new baseball field, which has been moved across the street adjacent to the softball field, will have a larger backstop, better fencing, new batting cages, bullpens, and covered dug outs.
The softball field has received numerous upgrades on behalf of the Joe White Memorial Fund, which has helped level the field, fix the fence, add batting cages, and a scoreboard. Jim Glines, chairman for the Joe White Memorial Fund, said there are plans in the works to add some palm trees around the softball field as well.
“We’re very happy to see these upgrades and appreciate all the school has done,” Glines said of the project.
Every year, the Joe White Fund helps support and makes improvements to Hancock athletics through fundraising, scholarships, and donations.
Aside from their aesthetic appeal, Ensing said these completed projects will impact the athletic department, the college, and the community at large.
“They will provide a safe physical environment for instruction and for community members,” she explained.
Such recent Hancock athletes as football player Cameron Artis-Payne and softball player Caitlin Voss—who both accepted scholarships to major schools—have helped put the college on the map for athletics. These field upgrades will undoubtedly help with recruiting, hopefully attracting more athletes like Artis-Payne and Voss.
“We lose kids to Cuesta and Santa Barbara City College,” Quintana said. “This will draw more local kids to come out.”
Quintana said the college will benefit even more since they will be able to hold track meets at the school.
Stevens said baseball was the “lead domino” of sorts in bringing the facilities up to date and transforming the configuration of outdoor facilities.
“Softball, football, soccer, track, and baseball will all have substantial upgrades that our entire community and athletes will enjoy for decades to come,” Stevens said.
Above all else, Ensing said that there will be a sense of pride that comes from these new facilities; Stevens and Quintana echoed their agreement.
“It will open more doors to build up our programs,” Quintana said.
“Whenever there’s an upgrade in facilities, a sense of pride manifests within the specific sport affected,” Stevens said. “The pride carries out through the athletic department, the college, and the community.”
While Ensing said the bond has been an enormous help to the athletic department, she said there’s a laundry list of improvements she would like to see made in athletics—such as one big addition.
“A football stadium would be great for the school and the community,” Ensing said.
The facilities projects are well under way at Hancock with the old track already torn up and the baseball field quickly nearing completion. Ensing said estimated completion is expected in August 2013.
The new John Osbourne field will be celebrating a field opening at the end of January.
Staff writer Kristina Sewell has her own field of dreams. Send comments to email@example.com.