After several years of waiting for an on-campus facility to call its own, the Bearden softball program has finally achieved that dream.
This dream comes in the form of a 4,200 square foot, state-of-the-art building which includes three batting cages, as well as two separate cages for pitching. It also features an area complete with Wi-Fi and tables where players can hang out or do homework in their downtime.
Knox County Schools approved the initial plans for this new building in November, and the actual construction began around the second week of January, athletics director Mr. Nathan Lynn said. The idea itself, however, has been a long time in the making.
“We’ve always kind of wanted something like this to work in because a lot of other schools have it, and so we’ve always been kind of saving up, trying to get that,” junior player Haley Mullens said. “But we’ve actually gotten it done this year.”
She, along with junior teammate Ellie Sexton, said that fundraisers like pancake breakfasts and banner advertisements, in addition to general parental donations, financed the now $60,000 project. Coach Leonard Sams also said that price tag would have been much higher if businesses had not discounted building materials and given their time for free.
The facility’s original location was behind the fence at third base, but due to wiring complications the building’s location was moved adjacent to the field. After moving a pole to yield the site operational, there still was not enough room for the building in the original site, so it was relocated – a complication that cost an additional $7,000.
Despite its fluctuating price tag, having an on-site building will prove to be a beneficial addition for the team by providing suitable access to otherwise inconveniently located resources.
“Usually once the season starts, we go hit at either Diamond or RBI, but now we can just stay here, and we won’t have to shuffle and rush everywhere to get everywhere,” Sexton said. “If it’s too cold outside, we can just go inside now.”
Mr. Lynn also said that this facility will foster a renewed sense of gratification within the program.
“I think it means more of an ownership for the student[s], for them to be able to have a place of their own…that they can get changed, they can do their workouts,” he said. “It really makes the facility match everything else we have here at Bearden…to just take more pride in the program.
“I think it means a lot for them to have just their own place on campus for them to go to.”