While it rained outside Monday, July 15, Pleasant Hope R-6 Activities Director Brent Offerdahl stayed dry as he unfurled one end of a web of black netting, ready to be hung for hitting tunnels inside the district’s new indoor practice facility.
Work on the 90-by-90-foot facility between the middle school and elementary school remains ongoing, with its weight room finished three weeks ago and work on its hitting tunnel netting done Monday.
The nets will stretch across a 90-by-60-foot turf practice field. They’re retractable, Offerdahl said, rendering the space usable for nearly all sports teams — from football to softball to the archery program staff hope to start this fall.
“Is it conducive to everything? No,” Offerdahl said, “but there is a lot you can get done in here.
“Anytime we have bad weather we know we can get in here now and have a great workout for our kids. It would have been nice to have it done this spring, I can tell you that.”
The idea for the indoor facility came about in January or February, he said.
“The concept came up, and we were thinking not that we’d have it ready for the school year that just finished, but something that we need for the future,” he said. “Really, the process all happened pretty quick.”
R-6 superintendent Kelly Lowe said the district spent about $236,000 on the building, making use of its reserves to fund the project and taking advantage of an existing 90-by-90-foot concrete slab as its base. Use of the base helped cut cost from the project, he said.
Lowe said the district was also in the process of upgrades at its running track, which is getting a rubberized surface. The pole vault and high jump areas are also seeing work done, he said. The full project costs about $125,000, he said.
The district was also able to save on the indoor facility by using facilities director JR Kyle, who has experience in building, as its contractor, Lowe said.
Offerdahl said the district had also been able to buy used turf from a college in Kansas rather than purchasing it new.
“Brand new turf is spendy, but we were able to get a pretty good deal on this,” he said. “For a practice facility, we thought it would be great.”
In addition to the 90-by-60 foot turf field, the new facility has a 30-by-60-foot weight room featuring new equipment. Offerdahl said the current high school weight room, located below the high school auditorium stage, would stay in use for P.E. classes, but “all of our varsity stuff will move here now.”
Lowe added that R-6 staff would also have access to exercise equipment, which includes treadmills and ellipticals.
The new building also features room for storage, a coaches’ office, and boys and girls bathrooms, Offerdahl said.
“When it used to be a concrete slab, I never realized it was this big,” he said.
The space should be put to good use, he added.
“With the elementary and middle school kids right here, if you had a rainy day and wanted to get a little recess time, it’d be a great use for that. We’ll have youth teams that may want to use this thing at night and it helps our faculty, as far as fitness.”
Lowe agreed there are communitywide benefits to investing in the student experience.
“The more activities we’re able to offer our kids, the more likely they are to be here at their school instead of out doing other things,” he said.