While the idea of upgrading the east campus athletic facilities has been discussed for more than five years, the impetus to bring it back in front of the public this fall came from a combination of community input and discussions between Lake Forest High School and the Booster Club.
- See related story: Lake Forest Boosters Embark on Aggressive $2.5 Million Fundraising Campaign
During a talk in front of Lake Forest parents and Booster Club members at a kickoff reception Aug. 25, Brian Vandenberg, who is chairing the Diamond Anniversary Campaign, indicated the east campus athletic facilities have outlived their usefulness.
According to Vandenberg, the list of deficiencies includes:
- The front lawn doesn’t accommodate regulation-size fields for field hockey or lacrosse, nor does Lindemeyer Field.
- The track is in serious disrepair and will need upgrading or replacement in the near future.
- The east side bleachers are condemned and closed to spectator use due to life-safety issues.
- The west side bleachers and press box are dilapidated as well.
Dr. Harry Griffith, superintendent of Lake Forest High School District 115, indicated it costs $20,000 just to have an inspection of the bleachers.
The new complex would be the primary home of track and field, girls’ lacrosse, field hockey and would supplement the school’s athletic fields at its west campus, according to Vandenberg. Beyond interscholastic athletics, wellness classes, the marching band, intramurals, cultural and civic events, would use the complex.
“The use of this facility is intended to stretch far beyond LFHS,” Vandenberg said, noting community youth groups.
The new surfaces also would potentially eliminate the cancellation of practices and events that happen with the grass fields at the east campus. Vandenberg said more than 100 school events last spring (competitions, practices) were canceled during a rain-ladened season due to unplayable natural grass fields. He said similar conditions also occurred in 2009.
Senior Abby Sirus, who plays field hockey and lacrosse, recalled being forced indoors to practice lacrosse inside the east campus field house. She suffered a knee injury that still bothers her.
“For students in the future to be able to go out there every day to play on those fields would be just amazing to me,” Sirus said at the reception.
Senior football player Matt Wagner has had the luxury of playing and practicing on the synthetic turf field at the west campus, and can testify to its impact.
“It’s a real confidence boost,” said Wagner, who also plays lacrosse. A lot of my teammates that think it makes them faster. I believe them. It helps you go harder and faster with way more intensity than you have on grass.”