Town celebrates opening of sports complex
By Steve Yingling
They didn’t have to be soccer players or track athletes to appreciate the Community Youth Sports Complex.
After all, the new multi-million facility for soccer, football and track and field shaved at least an hour of class time during a community celebration on Thursday.
“It’s cool and much better than the old one,” said South Tahoe Middle School seventh-grader Justin McKenrick, one of many students and community members who turned out for the early afternoon celebration at South Tahoe Middle School.
“It’s beautiful. I’m going to try out for football,” said Ashik Patel.
One STMS seventh-grader looked beyond the slick-looking green turf and white lines, deciphering that the facility will save the city money.
“It’s nice, and you don’t have to water it,” Trenton Heer said.
Eighth-grader Colton Marchesseault competed on his school’s track team last year and can’t wait for next season when the new track will provide something that track athletes haven’t had in a long time.
“Last year, all of the track meets were down at (other) schools, and we get to have a meet here this year,” he said.
One impressed student was even convinced that the nine-lane polyurethane track was somehow longer than before.
“It’s cool, but it’s so long,” said seventh-grader Dominic Earley.
South Tahoe High School and STMS band members entertained celebrants until representatives from each of Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s schools and St. Theresa School completed a relay from their schools (STMS and St. Theresa started at the airport) to the track. Most of the participants ran short increments before handing off a plastic torch to a classmate. Many of the runners banded together at Third Street and then collectively proceeded down Lake Tahoe Boulevard to the track.
Key contributors to the four-month project, community leaders and construction companies were lauded and participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that marked the official opening of the track.
“It’s been a long time coming. The community really jumped behind it and made it happen,” said STHS cross country coach Dominique Westlake, who competed on the Olympic Trials track in the late 1970s as a Viking. “A lot of the credit goes to the community and what they did in donating their time, money and energy to stand behind the district and the kids and show that this is important to them, too. It’s not about the money for them; it’s about providing the facilities, places where kids can go, play and have fun.”
Project leader Karin Holmes capped the celebration by putting the students’ feet in motion. Carrying a lit torch, Holmes, along with project architect Brett Long and construction project coordinator Steve Morales, led the relay members and the entire STMS student body in a ceremonial lap around the track.
“I thought this was going to happen in about 20 years,” said Holmes, who persistently raised awareness and funds for a new track with an annual 10K/5K event. “That it happened today is pretty amazing.”