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Sports complex brings multiple benefits

Published June 25, 2024
Rendering.jpg

Rendering of the Sapulpa Public Schools Westside Baseball and Softball Complex

The Westside Baseball and Softball Complex promises multiple long-term benefits for Sapulpa Public Schools baseball and softball players, coaches, fans, parents, bus drivers, and just about everyone else in this growing community.

 

“This is a literal game-changer for Sapulpa sports,” said SPS Athletic Director Michael Rose. “I’m looking forward to seeing how this benefits our students, parents, and staff.”

 

Using designs by Sapulpa’s Reed Architecture and Interiors, SPS broke ground on April 25 for this expansion of the Westside Sports Complex, 1611 S. Wickham Road, home to the school’s soccer and track programs. This marked the first construction start under the $279 million Chieftain Stronger bond package approved last fall. Construction manager D.C. Bass and Sons Construction Co. of Sapulpa hopes to finish this project for the Chieftain baseball season next spring.

 

That’s where Rose starts counting his blessings. For close to a century, the Chieftains baseball team competed at L.D. Lawson Stadium, 1004 W. Bryan.

 

“That’s a city-owned property two miles west of the high school, beside the golf course,” said Rose. “Under a longstanding agreement, SPS rented it from the city. The district has done a good job of trying to keep up with its maintenance, but you can only do so much with something that old.”

 

The Chieftains softball team competes at the Sapulpa Softball Field, over a mile northwest of the high school at 631 N. Brown.

 

“Having to coordinate trips to different sides of town made it difficult for our transportation crews to get players back and forth on time,” Rose said. “And it made it hard on parents who had kids playing at both places.”

 

The new stadiums will allow these teams to practice and play at neighboring locations, boosting camaraderie and team spirit. The playing fields will feature artificial turf, reducing maintenance costs and potential injuries, with lighting for night games. A full-size indoor practice infield with batting cages will allow players to fine-tune their skills during inclement weather. Other amenities include locker rooms for the junior high and varsity teams, offices for the coaches, an air-conditioned concession area, and covered bleachers, promising increased and improved seating options.

 

“Bringing both baseball and softball together on the same site as the soccer, track and field and cross-country teams is a huge advantage,” said David Reed, principal and founder of Reed Architecture. “The sharing of facilities and parking for all these sports is a significant financial savings and allows the district to maximize the resources entrusted to them by our community.”

 

These elements boost SPS’s attractiveness to students and parents.

 

“It is a recruiting tool,” Rose said. “Families look closely at the high school and its facilities when they move. People are attracted to better facilities. It’s a keeping up with the Jones kind of thing.

 

“That was the point of the bond program,” he added, looking not just at these stadiums, but the new high school Reed Architecture is designing. “Our existing high school has served our students for six decades. Our new high school will serve students for the next 50 to 60 years. That’s a huge asset for our entire community.”

 

SPS baseball programs have attracted increased participation from students and parents under coach Steve Irvine, whose teams won the 5A Regional Championship in 2022 and 2023. His squad made it to the state semifinals this spring. 

 

New head softball coach Magen Coldiron also has enjoyed heightened interest in her program. 

 

“We had the most girls try out for softball in several years, which is a great indication of how that program’s going,” said Rose.

 

He expects this to grow as the school opens its first true home fields for both sports – something students and fans have sought a long, long time.

 

“My dad graduated in 1967 and he played on the current baseball field,” SPS Assistant Superintendent Johnny Bilby recalled during the groundbreaking. “I played on the same field. And all I heard through my high school career was, ‘One more year until we get a new field.’

 

“We’re doing it now, and that’s a great compliment to our community,” said Bilby, as reported in the Sapulpa Times. “I’m very excited about the coaching staff and our players, and we are ready to throw out the first pitch.”

 

Rose has seen rising interest in both sports among Sapulpa’s youth leagues, which he considers the “feeder system” for the SPS junior high and varsity programs. 

 

“It’s going to be an exciting summer for them, watching these stadiums being built,” he said. “It gives them something to look forward to, being able to play in those facilities.

 

“The kids are what this all revolves around,” said Rose. “Having facilities that the kids are proud of and love, and that they get to do a sport that they love, I think that’s what I enjoy most about all this.”

 

Sapulpa Public Schools serves nearly 3,800 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Under the leadership of Superintendent Rob Armstrong, SPS employs about 600 people at eight schools, a virtual academy, one service center, and the administrative building. You may learn more about the district at www.sapulpaps.org 

 

For more on the SPS athletics programs, check out sapulpaathletics.org

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