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Willmar gets funding help to improve fields at high school

WILLMAR -- Willmar Public Schools will get help from a local booster association to upgrade baseball and soccer fields at Willmar Senior High.

The district has received a $16,000 commitment from the Willmar Baseball/Fastpitch Booster Association, according to a news release from the district.

The boosters offered to improve dugouts and field conditions and to install a permanent outfield fence and improved dugouts at the west fields at the Senior High.

The district has also used money from its capital outlay fund to develop regulation soccer fields at the Senior High. The capital outlay fund is reserved for development and maintenance of the district's infrastructure. It cannot be used for operating expenses like wages, benefits, curriculum or supplies.

According to the release, the need for more ball fields in the community came to light this past summer with the Willmar Stingers baseball team playing in town.

The district also needed to find more room for soccer, because part of the baseball outfield had been used as a soccer practice field. The permanent outfield fence would end that use.

A 400 yard by 400 yard area north of the Senior High has been seeded and will be available for the 2011-2012 soccer season. The area will also be used for physical education classes.

Activities Director Jamie Thompson said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon the growth of the soccer program in recent years has been "phenomenal."

This year, the school has 66 boys and 50 girls playing on varsity, junior varsity 1 and junior varsity 2 teams. They currently have two fields for practice. This plan will double that.

"We had a great need for these two fields, because we didn't have enough room for practice fields," Thompson said.

The district's competition soccer fields are about 6½ miles away from the Senior High in northeastern Willmar. They are behind Roosevelt Elementary School in southwestern Willmar.

"The District saw the opportunity to have regulation soccer fields at the Senior High," Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said in the release. "Having quality soccer fields on both ends of town will be a huge plus to the growing soccer movement in Willmar."

--Linda Vanderwerf