BUCKHANNON – In June 2018, the Upshur County Board of Education gave its stamp of approval for the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Softball Boosters to proceed with their proposed project to create a “Field of Dreams” for the girls team.
The first phase of the “Field of Dreams” could start to morph into a reality come March, the chair of the committee for the new field said last week.
During the board of education meeting that summer, Brett Robinson, chair of the new field committee, and Rick Reynolds, then-B-UHS vice principal and athletic director shared their vision for the new field, which they said would be located just above the B-UHS baseball field.
At the time, the group explained the project would have four phases. Those included relocating the discus cage and installing a basic practice field there with an infield area and bases. Phase two would include installing bleachers and dugouts, and phase three would include construction of perimeter fences. Meanwhile, phase four would be erecting proper lighting.
Robinson and Reynolds explained the need for the new field at the high school, saying the B-UHS and B-UMS softball teams face scheduling problems due to using the same field for games and practice. High school students traveling to the middle school field on a school bus are prohibited from taking their bat bags, they said.
When My Buckhannon checked in with Robinson last week, he said the group is still fundraising for the “Field of Dreams” project and remains determined to see it through until the end.
“Our first phase will cost approximately $50,000,” Robinson said. “The total on that has probably grown since then. I had underestimated the cost of the lighting. I talked to some people about the lighting, and it will be the biggest expense. The lights themselves will be about $140,000. The field is going to be completed by a company that builds baseball and softball fields professionally.”
Robinson said he has talked with Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, and the two discussed looking for grant-funding opportunities that might help bolster the boosters’ capital campaign for the “Field of Dreams.”
“I am planning on proceeding on constructing the field and doing some partial fencing,” he said. “We are going to make phase one happen as soon as possible. I anticipate that we will start construction beginning when the weather breaks, around March.”
He said the first thing to come will be the dirt work, followed by the bases and field.
“The fence is dependent on our receiving additional funds,” Robinson said. “The press box, masonry and other items will come later in the project. My goal this spring is to have a place for the girls to practice.”
One of the biggest challenges is scheduling, according to Robinson.
“It’s always a scheduling issue between the middle school and high school, especially with the time change,” he said. “The lights at the middle school have not worked for about two years. The county has done nothing about that. Buckhannon-Upshur is one of only six or seven AAA schools in the state that does not have a dedicated softball facility.”
Robinson said the project has received some generous donations – from St. Joseph’s Hospital WVU Medicine, Weyerhaeuser, John Jenkins, J.F. Allen and other businesses in Buckhannon. He said they are continuing their fundraising but noted that many potential donors prefer to see some activity before they give money to this kind of project.
Still, Robinson insisted the “Field of Dreams” project will be a reality someday.
“We need more community support and more finances to make sure this project is completed,” Robinson said. “It’s what it all boils down to – we need more donations to make this happen for the kids. It is going to be professionally done. When I went out and started getting donors, I found that it’s the same donors who donate all the time. I think getting the word out and having more participation is what you need.”
Robinson said he intends to stick with the “Field of Dreams” project to the end, even if when it extends after his daughter, Alli, graduates this year.
“We started something, and we are going to finish it and see it through to the end,” Robinson said. “We will get it done. It may take five years – it may take 10 years – but we are going to make it happen.”
Individuals, groups, organizations or businesses willing to help or donate to the “Field of Dreams” project can contact Robinson by calling 304-703-7625.