Athletic fields

Voters approve new OESJ sports grounds


the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville University Women’s Football the team held practices in less than ideal locations.

“We trained at the gym. We practiced in our auditorium. On the concrete in the parking lot, ”said coach Zale Benton.

And they played their home games away from home. In Fonda. In Broadalbin-Perth. Most recently they have played home games including this year’s Section II Class D semi-final game, in Gloversville. The boys’ team also played playoff games in Gloversville.

While Benton has said she greatly appreciates that neighboring districts are so welcoming, not having a viable home ground dampens the mood, even when she wins playoff games – football teams. girls and boys academics from the OESJ were Champions of Section II Class D this season.

“You’re not going to have the same crowd,” Benton said. “There are people who cannot make this trip. When it is cold and the weather is bad, they will not take the road to sit on a site which they do not know ”, she added, the children of the community cannot easily get to Gloversville – about a 30 minute drive to the OESJ Central School District – to watch high school students play. “You build your program when everyone can go out and see a game. “

According to the district sports coordinator, Travis Heiser. It’s a problem that has worsened every year for almost two decades, he said. Additionally, a second field option is a baseball field, which means that almost half is dirt, and it is not legal size for football, according to Heiser.

But the results of a provisional vote on December 21 will provide football teams with a place to play. By a margin of more than 2 to 1, 184 to 90, district voters approved a $ 5.9 million proposal to convert the current undersized softball and soccer fields behind OESJ Jr./Sr. in multisport synthetic turf pitches of regulatory size. District plans, which the district says are tax-free, call for a synthetic turf softball field with a 200-foot outdoor field and a 210-by-360-foot synthetic turf football field, as well as a grandstand. 500 seats with video platform and stadium lights. There will also be a 25-car parking lot and an access road to the land, depending on the district.

Superintendent Adam Heroth said that with approval from the New York State Department of Education, construction on the project could begin as early as next summer. He hopes the grounds will be ready in time for the 2023-2024 school year. The vote was necessary because the school district needs voters’ approval to spend money from the Capital Reserve Fund, but the district said that fund will still have a balance of $ 2.47 million an times the project money paid.

“I would like to thank the OESJ community for the outpouring of support received on the proposed sports field during yesterday’s vote,” Heroth said in a statement Wednesday. “The construction of this facility continues our commitment to providing our students with world-class facilities in which they can thrive. The investments we have made in this district over the past four years are a source of pride and motivation, and we are delighted with the future opportunities available to our students and all members of our community.

Sports coordinator Heiser said the new pitches can serve several purposes. In addition to being used by soccer and softball teams, the fields provide a place for the baseball team to practice, and Heiser considers the new facility to be a great place for the marching band as well. In addition, Heiser anticipates that future community events, from graduation ceremonies to festivals, will be held on the new grounds.

The possibilities are endless on what we can do, ”Heiser said.

Heiser also said the vote shows students that they are valued.

“It shows the children that people in the community are investing in them. The reality is it’s been a few years, and from a mental perspective it’s huge, ”Heiser said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Benton, who has said she has coached for 36 years, is already dreaming of what game day will be like once the new sports facility is built.

“This pitch is going to have lights, it’s going to have seating in the stadium, it’s going to be state of the art, and people are going to want to come,” she said.

Andrew Waite can be reached at and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

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