As athletics begin in the fall, not much will change. With a recent renovation of the soccer field on Beaver Street, the school board saw no reason to spend money on creating a new field in Whitingham. The board also conferred with Twin Valley Athletic Director and boys’ soccer coach Buddy Hayford on the subject. Hayford said that the current field, which features lights, made the games more accessible for fans. “To use that field for soccer is a no-brainer because of the lights,” said Hayford, who has coached teams on the field for 33 years. “The kids have always enjoyed playing under the lights and it allows more parents to come to the games. It’s what’s made soccer for Wilmington and Twin Valley High very special and a draw for us.”
School board member Phil Taylor said that the board had hoped to do a major upgrade to the fields behind Twin Valley Middle/High School along with school renovations, but the board felt that the $400,000-$600,000 price tag would be better spent in the classrooms for now. “For new drainage and regrading, that was a huge number and we just couldn’t do it,” said Taylor. “We listened to our athletic director on this and there is no question we’re playing soccer and baseball in Wilmington. If we have an opportunity here to have sport games played in Wilmington it’s a great thing because it keeps activities in both towns. That’s the position we’re in. We want to do more work on the fields in Whitingham, but we’re going to have to take that as it goes.”
As for the school’s other outdoor sports, softball and baseball, the location of games and practices will not change. The boys’ team will still practice and play at Baker Field as the diamond there has undergone upgrades, while softball will continue in Whitingham. While the Whitingham facilities may not see a new soccer field anytime soon, the school board is focused on upgrading the softball field. “That is a big priority right now to give the girls a proper field, but we have no money to do it right now,” said Taylor. Fill from the excavation sites at Twin Valley Middle/High School has been stored onsite in hopes that it can be used to build a better surface for the softball team.
Finally, the school board intends to utilize the basketball courts of both facilities for practice, while games will be played at a brand new gymnasium at the middle/high school. The cramped, yet homey gymnasium in Wilmington was small, and spectators had to scamper across the court during timeouts to reach the concession stand. The new gym will feature seating for approximately 400, as well as an upper mezzanine, and a concession stand with windows facing the court so those selling popcorn won’t miss a dribble.
According to Hayford, the old facility will make it possible for all levels of play to get their practice in. “We’ll continue to use the current facility in Wilmington for practice purposes,” said Hayford. “The luxury of having a second facility is if middle school games are going on in Whitingham, we can ship our older kids up to Wilmington to practice and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Most personal to Hayford is the continued use of Baker Field for soccer where he has coached six championship teams over his career, including last year’s undefeated championship team. “There’s a lot of history of course, and memorable games and performances by my players on that field over the years, and we’ll continue to make memories and continue to do what we’ve always done and let the good times roll on.”