New stadium turf field highlights $1.5 million athletic upgrades at Hebron

17 January 2018

Athletic conditioning at Hebron Christian soon will be more scenic.

Athletic director Taylor Davis, also the Lions’ head volleyball coach, plans to take full advantage of the track and artificial turf stadium field that sits behind the high school campus. The $1.5 million project, nearing completion, provides an improved venue for games in sports like football and soccer, as well as training for other sports.

Volleyball running, for example, will be much nicer on a new track.

“Previously, it was 18 1/2 laps around the gym for a mile,” a laughing Davis said.

The stadium field project is the latest in a recent span of athletic enhancements at Hebron that fall in the $4.5 to $5 million range, Davis said. The other improvements include a new softball field (on track to open for high school softball in August), a baseball fieldhouse with concession stand, press box, locker rooms, bathrooms and a training room (scheduled to open during the spring), a new baseball scoreboard and a new athletics gymnasium (planned finish of fall 2018) that sits near the elementary school campus. Sand volleyball courts, new tennis courts and bleacher additions also have been added in recent years.

The athletic expansion comes on the heels of the private school’s other projects, like a new middle school with a fine arts center and two-story elementary school.

“Just the growth is what has been very sobering,” Davis said. “Seeing everything from where we’ve started, the limitations we’ve had, to where we will be next year is amazing. It speaks volumes. To me, it’s about equipping our coaches with the resources they need and giving them what they need to run their program, from the ground up, from the youth programs all the way up to the varsity. Give them what they need so they can run their programs efficiently. It’s a great step and it will be great for our kids.”

Between its youth and high school sports programs, Hebron fields 55 teams. The student body isn’t large — it is a Class A Private school — but 77 percent of the Lions’ middle-schoolers and 72 percent of their high-schoolers are involved in school-sponsored athletics.

“The cool thing is a lot of the programs are being touched (by the additions),” Hebron assistant athletic director Dan Pritchard said. “It’s not just a football thing. A lot of programs are being impacted by the improvements and the kids are excited.”

Of the additions, the most visible is at the high school stadium.

Rick Burlingame Field is now covered in FieldTurf, eliminating the maintenance of a natural turf field and allowing Hebron’s athletic teams to play games and have practices, rain or shine. Numbers and yard lines already are on the field, and the all-black end zones have drawn rave reviews from the students.

A large, multi-layered retaining wall also is under construction to provide additional seating, as well as giving the stadium a more complete feel. The track and field portions of the stadium, though not yet finished, are among the most important.

It will include two jumping areas, a pole vaulting area, areas for the shot put and discus and an eight-lane, Beynon Sports track. Those facilities will be put to good use by Hebron’s track and field program, which last season featured 70 high-schoolers and an additional 50 middle-schoolers. The 5-year-old track and field program previously shared the facilities at nearby Dacula High School.

Now with its own facility, Hebron also had to invest in items like hurdles and a pole vault pit. The timeline for completion of the circular track isn’t firm — it is currently soggy red clay until the track surface is laid down. Once that 12- to 14-day installation happens, the surface must curate for an additional 28 days before use.

Construction on the stadium renovation began Oct. 1, forcing the football season finale to be played at Providence Christian in Lilburn, and had some ups and downs. A total of 21 large rocks were unearthed and moved to other spots around campus. Weather also forces unforeseen delays.

But it’s still been a fun project for Davis, Pritchard and the others involved.

“There’s been a lot of stress to it, but at the end of the day it’s very fulfilling,” Davis said.