The third in a series by Cliff Lewis
Jon Mitchell took the helm as Athletic Director last January after the district’s athletic program had reached a demoralizing low. Since then, Mitchell and other athletic officials have been working to turn this record around. And, so far, the district has exhibited steady—and sometimes remarkable—improvements in the 2009 fall season, despite continued set backs in its football program.
As of this week, the Boys Varsity Soccer Team has applied for district playoffs for the first time in at least ten years. In 2008, the team closed its season with a lackluster 5-11 record; today, they hold a record of 9-9.
As discussed in previous articles, the program is being enhanced on a number of levels, including a renewed emphasis on academic achievement, professional training for players and coaches, and an effort to strengthen the district’s elementary-level ‘feeder’ programs. More visibly, however, the district has also been investing in a number of physical improvements to strengthen its athletic functions.
McCaskey’s four-lane pool, used for swim team training purposes, was out of commission for most of last year, due to a need for upgrades: “Frequently,” Mitchell said, “the water quality would be poor enough that they would say, ‘well, we can’t practice today.’” Over the summer, the pool was brought up to usable standards. Also, Mitchell added, “In addition to replacing the pump/filter systems, the pool and surrounds were thoroughly cleaned [and] scrubbed, and parts of the pool deck were painted.”
The weight room at McCaskey has also been improved with new weights and equipment, Mitchell said. In addition to this, Mitchell also noted, “I am also working on upgrading the office space at McCaskey to include a waiting room and conference room. I think this will give a much more professional look and feel to our athletic department, in addition to making it more conducive to conducting business.”
Further down the road, however, Mitchell has a much larger project in view. Unused indoor space at the district’s stadium, Mitchell said, could, one day, make the perfect location for athletic offices and training facilities: “You’ve got this nice, big, brick stadium. We never use the concessions under there anymore. You’ve already got plumbing under there. It’s a great place.”
The position of this facility, Mitchell said, would help “break down the wall between McCaskey and McCaskey East. It would be equal access to both buildings.” But, most of all, Mitchell asserted, an expansion like this could serve as “a place to let people know that we are serious about being competitive”—a message that has already begun to ring true in the soccer fields of L-L League Section 1 this fall.