Indian Creek School will open a $4 million athletic complex in the fall with upgraded soccer fields, tennis courts and a baseball diamond.
The school community said the athletic complex will give students a boost in competition, more playing time, generate rental revenue and donations, and increase applications to the school.
The project was prompted by a family that donated $500,000 for building tennis courts and other school programs.
The donation was the largest gift in the school's history, Head of School Rick Branson wrote in a 2014 letter to the school community.
Traci Ramsey, the director of development at Indian Creek, said the grass fields and lack of local tennis courts put students at a disadvantage against schools with modern on-site facilities.
"Sports just generates school pride, and pride in your school generates the momentum in philanthropy and admissions," she said.
About 70 percent of students play sports at Indian Creek.
Ramsey said the upgraded fields will more than double the playing time, allowing athletes to play after rain storms. While grass fields need to recover from a practice or a game, artificial fields can be used again and again.
On a recent morning, dump trucks and construction equipment moved back and forth across the fields by the school's building on Anne Chambers Way.
The construction crew will install two weather-resistant and low-impact fields for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
School staff will pay for the project with the $500,000 donation, fundraising dollars and by taking on debt. The construction will also add seating for 500 people, lights for night games, a concession stand and bathrooms.
"This escalates the caliber of everything we do," Ramsey said.
The school hired Matt Selmer, the baseball director at the Athletic Performance Inc. training company, to coach and assemble a competitive team early this year. He said he's recruiting baseball players to the school. Next spring, the team will compete for the first time in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association since 2007.
This past spring, the team had about 10 players, some of whom did not have baseball experience, Selmer said. They played on a rocky baseball diamond in a Crownsville park.
Selmer said a quality field is essential to recruiting players.
"My goal is to draw players that want the best possible academic school they can get and provide those players with a great baseball team," he said.
The facility will also make practice more convenient and draw more parents to games, school administrators said.
Students will travel less to practice at places such as a Crofton park, said Diana Ortiz, the school's director of facilities and sustainability.
Ray Fanning, a parent of two Indian Creek students, said the investment in the facilities is a sign that the school cares about its athletes.
"You want to show the kids, with all the hard work they put in, that we value that," he said.
He said athletics was an important factor when he chose schools for his children because he wanted a school with a well-rounded program.
Fanning's two children, one in middle school and one in high school, play soccer, basketball and lacrosse. He said sports is a point of pride and identity.
"It's kind of neat when your kids are wearing Indian Creek athletic gear," he said.
Source : capitalgazette.com