Soroptimists breathe life into aging South Tahoe softball field
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It’s been nearly 50 years since the softball field at South Tahoe Middle School was built and little improvement had been done since. But after 10 years of saving money, the Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe has given the field a major facelift, and girls have been able to play there once more.
About a decade ago, SISLT decided they wanted to do a legacy project and started saving money, even though they didn’t yet have the softball field in mind.
“We decided as a club that we wanted to do a major project where we would have a bigger impact on the community. We wanted to make sure to enhance the lives of women and children and benefit the community, use sustainable strategies, that it was cost-effective to maintain self-sustainment and created a legacy for the club,” said Rose Marie Ottman, grants chairperson for the SISLT Executive Softball Committee.
The softball field was much like the field in the Sandlot, it was completely dirt and players were twisting their ankles. Next door is the Babe Ruth field that was recently redone and offer all the amenities.
“As far as Title IX goes, the facilities for the girls weren’t the same and if we didn’t do anything, it was going to take a long time [for something to be done] because nobody in the community had expressed any interest,” Ottman said.
The softball field is used by the middle school softball teams, as well as, the high school teams prior to the snow melting, the middle school P.E. class, the Boys and Girls Club, the adult league and the High Sierra Softball League which serves girls 5-16 years old.
By the time they decided on the project, SISLT had $325,000 saved. They’ve since raised additional funds.Since starting the project, they’ve received surveys, architectural drawings, and site utilities, as well as Tahoe Regional Planning Agency permits and a donation agreement with Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
They’ve replaced all the fencing, put in a new backstop, paved the pathway to the middle school, removed 250 yards of infill dirt and replaced it with high quality infield mix and topsoil. A new scoreboard, new bases and new bleachers have been installed and a new public address system is on the way.
The project is far from over. They have plans to add a warm-up area, an ADA accessible parking lot and drop-off area separated from the fields (the current parking lot is in the foul-ball danger zone), and a new dugout.
While there is work yet to be done, the field has been able to be used this season and Ottman said the players are excited about the work that’s already been completed.
“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm. By investing in the fields, you’re investing in the girls and you’re basically telling them, ‘we care about you and we think you’re important,’” Ottman said. “They’ve been really excited and happy about what’s been changed.“This is the perfect avenue for girls to be physically empowered and emotionally empowered, I just see it as a catalyst for assisting girls to find their own voice,” Ottman added.
SISLT envisions the field hosting community events and being able to generate revenue down the line. In the meantime, the club still needs money to complete the renovations.
To donate or to follow progress of the project, visit https://www.sislt.org/softball-field/.
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