Build it right, Battle Mountain
If the Battle Mountain High School continues its westward migration from Red Cliff to Minturn to Eagle-Vail to Edwards, pretty soon the Huskies will be playing in Gypsum which will make things awfully confusing when it comes to determining the home team when they play Eagle Valley.
Starting in the fall of 2009, the campus will be in Edwards. The academic side of the campus looks great ” the current high school is literally bursting at the seams. But the proposed athletic facilities need a serious overhaul.
New Battle Mountain will have a gym for volleyball, basketball and wrestling, a baseball diamond and a multi-purpose grass field for football, soccer, track and field and likely lacrosse.
The last item is where the powers that be have gone awry. The field currently has no lights or bleachers, which means the football and track teams won’t compete there, but back at the old campus at Phelan Field. The school’s soccer teams, particularly the girls’ squad, need a quality regulation-sized turf pitch. Odds are that under the proposed plans, the girls’ soccer team will have to battle for playing time at Freedom Park.
And how do the future lacrosse teams ” it’s pretty much a given the school will be adding the sport in the next 5-10 years ” fit in?
Battle Mountain needs to go back to the drawing board.
Athletics play a critical role in the high school experience. Forget wins and losses, though you learn from both. By participating in a sport, student-athletes have to learn to budget their time and be accountable to their teammates. While 99.9 percent of those who go through high school will likely never use a three-point stance in their careers, time management and learning to work with others are life skills.
You’ve got a better chance of getting kids to play sports and learn these lessons if they are located on campus. Not only is it better for the athletes, but the entire student body.
In the last two academic years, during which Battle Mountain ” at least by its standards ” has had dizzying success, the most exciting thing to see has been the students coming together at games.
Volleyball coach Brian Doyon has staggered practice schedules for his team, so the ladies could go out and catch the first half of the soccer game. The cross country team has stopped its practice runs to cheer soccer. The soccer team returns the favor by going to volleyball games after its game.
In the early months of 2006, we saw the entire school, regardless of age or ethnicity, come together to go bonkers for the boys’ basketball team. When football got off to a 4-1 start last fall, the same thing happened, and for a program with little record of recent success, that was a huge step for everyone involved.
No lights and no bleachers sends the football and likely boys’ soccer back to Eagle-Vail, and you can forget about this new-found sense of community. (If you’re looking for a financial incentive, Battle Mountain could finally charge for soccer games at the new facility as opposed to Eagle-Vail.)
Then, there’s the lunacy of the track situation. Battle Mountain hasn’t been able to host a big meet recently because the oval at Phelan Field has only six lanes. The good news is that the proposed field has an eight-lane track, but nowhere for spectators to sit, no concession stands and no press box. While I like the press box for personal reasons, you need one to run a meet, not to mention host football with its coaches and different media.
Under the current proposal, Battle Mountain would have a nice 8-lane track, but would still have to compete at Phelan Field. You’ve just built a useless oval. Nice job.
Boys of Summer?
The most boggling thing about the new facility proposal is that of all the outdoor venues, Battle Mountain is building a baseball diamond. The practicality of playing baseball at Battle Mountain is the subject for another column.
What I question about this decision is that it doesn’t seem that the school is taking participation numbers of different sports. Using very conservative estimates, Battle Mountain is building a diamond that during a very good spring, 40 students would use for baseball, while building an incomplete facility for 250 Huskies. (This is based on 45 kids for football, 45 for boys’ soccer, 40 for girls’ soccer, 70 for track and field and 50 for a future boys’ and girls’ lacrosse program. These numbers, by the way, are well below the current number of students coming out for the existing programs.)
Wouldn’t the money best be spent where there is greater interest? Reflecting the demographics of Eagle County, soccer in the fall and the spring is a big-time sport at Battle Mountain. Like cross country, track is booming with nearly 100 students competing last spring.
Meanwhile, football is growing in numbers under former coach Pat Engle and now Jason Sedlak.
I’d like to see the Huskies succeed in baseball, but if it’s a choice between a diamond and a full-fledged new incarnation of Phelan Field in Edwards, the school is spending its money more wisely on the latter.