By Jake DeLuca
No more riding buses to practice for the Armstrong High School tennis, baseball, and softball teams thanks to the newly finished courts and fields.
Over a years worth of work went into constructing two tennis courts (one for singles matches and the other for doubles matches), a softball field, and a baseball field for the Armstrong River Hawks to call home.
Before the construction of the new courts and fields the Armstrong tennis team had to practice at two separate courts; singles players would practice at the three courts by the old Kittanning High School, while doubles players practiced at the community park.
According to Co-Head Coach Doug Flanders of the Armstrong River Hawks varsity tennis team the new courts have already provided a feeling of togetherness with the team.
“It’s much better (the new tennis courts) we were split up before; either she ( Co-Head Coach Sue Ochs) was up with doubles and I was with singles or vice versa. Being all together is nice, you feel like more of a team when you are all together. Everyone roots for each other,” Flanders said.
The Armstrong baseball team would practice at Ford City’s field while the softball team would practice at Judd Field in Kittanning.
Director of Finance and Operations for the Armstrong School District Sam Kirk went on to explain the benefits of having the baseball/softball fields and tennis courts on campus means for Armstrong High School.
“We had to transport kids out to Kittanning for (tennis) practices and matches, so right there we are already saving money (with the new court/field) because we don’t have to bus them out everyday. Last year we played baseball in Ford City and we played softball down at Judd Field which we were paying to play at Judd Field, we were maintaining Ford City’s field because we still owned it, we were out there cutting grass and lining it. Now it’s just right there and our kids can go right out, our custodians who prepare the fields and the courts don’t have to travel down to do Kittanning or Ford City. So it is not only convenient – it is already cost-saving overall because we aren’t having kids travel to practice or having to travel to maintain the fields.”
The baseball field technically isn’t ready yet, according to Director of Finance and Operations for the Armstrong School District Sam Kirk.
“(The baseball and softball fields) have not been turned over to us yet. We had it bad, because of the lack of rain at the beginning of summer so we had some trouble growing grass. Our plan is to play on the field during spring for baseball and softball season. Fall is usually a good growing season, but other than that everything is done except making sure the grass grows properly,” Kirk explained.
Kirk went on to explain that it was always the plan to have facilities for all sports on the new Armstrong High School campus.
“When (Armstrong High School) was being built there were plans, because obviously Kittanning and Ford City already had their own tennis courts and baseball/softball fields they were playing on. Our goal is to get all of our athletic facilities on the Armstrong campus. There are still plans for a football stadium to happen in the near future. We have not gotten the contract for that yet, we are still developing the plans and layout for the football stadium,” said Kirk.
The football stadium is ‘the last piece of the “puzzle” for Kirk and the rest of the Armstrong School District administrative staff. The stadium will include a track for track and field and will be functional for soccer, football, and track.
Kirk and others have had conversations about the cost of a new multi-sport facility.
“ I would need to quote a cost right now. About two years ago this was all billed out for a football stadium and it came to around $10 million. Our goal is to cut that in half, we would like to build something for around $5 million,” said Kirk.
The tennis courts and the baseball/softbal fields cost a total of $1.7 million dollars.
For more information on the construction of the new Armstrong Stadium stay tuned to the Kittanning Paper.