Spring training begins at new athletic complex

BY JOHN PAUL MARTIN

Sun Correspondent

Anyone who loves sports remembers the first time they walked into a professional stadium. For me, it was watching the Reds play with my dad during the early 90s. The impression it leaves you with is amazement, excitement, and awe of the facility’s size and quality. But what if you could have the same sort of reaction to a high school facility? What if you could give anyone that visits a lasting impression for years to come?

The new athletic complex at George Rogers Clark High School does just that; it inspires awe. I caught up with the GRC baseball and softball teams on Thursday evening during one of the first few practices in the new complex. In his fourth season as head coach of the GRC baseball team, Matt Puckett was visibly taken aback by the facility surrounding him. Until this year, the previous field was stricken with flooding and sanitation issues that often led to the inability to practice or play games. The team lost out on a valuable experience with as much as three weeks of loss between use.

Inability to use the facilities is a thing of the past. In addition to the new, fully turfed baseball and softball fields, a new central training building is outfitted with all of the needed amenities for all sports in the case of inclement weather.

“We love everything about the new facilities. From the four drop nets and room to take ground balls in the field house to the wide-open space on the new field. The guys and coaches are truly wowed by the absolute feel of walking up and getting to see that view of the field each night. It is a beautiful facility, and we are blessed to have such a place to call home. This field is open compared to our old field, and we plan on using that space to showcase our speed,” Puckett said. “It is the little things that get you excited, but we are starting to get a feel for the way it will play and hoping to get that home-field advantage, so to speak. This turf plays as true to grass as you can get without it being the real thing. We are excited for these kids getting to play ball again, but to have this field in our backyard, it’s like Christmas morning every day you step between the lines.”

There is no place these athletes would rather be than between these new lines. During spring training last year, COVID decimated what would have been a promising season for both programs. The excitement associated with the new facilities is just what they need to make a lasting impression and kick off some normalcy in style.