Fielding a change: WHS baseball field gets press box, upgradesKevin McDermott felt like his players weren’t getting the full varsity experience.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Kevin McDermott felt like his players weren’t getting the full varsity experience.
At many schools, ballplayers come to bat with their names booming from a loudspeaker while musical accompaniment fills the ballpark.
That hasn’t quite been the case at Woodbury High School.
There, McDermott, the Royals’ varsity baseball coach, drags out a simple speaker each game. It comes with a microphone.
Usually, volunteers are kind enough to talk into it, he said.
The system works, McDermott said, but it could be better.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to bring since my first day,” he said of upgrades to the field. “It just doesn’t seem like a quality experience that the kids would want to be a part of.”
That’s all about to change.
Nearing completion at Royals Stadium is a press box that will provide the space and technology to accomplish what McDermott is after. Once complete, the press box will include a modern PA system, complete with a sound system that can play tunes in between innings or as batters step to the plate.
“That brings a little atmosphere to the park when you have music and an announcer,” McDermott said.
The project – expected to be complete this month – was made possible by District 916 staff and students.
McDermott got in touch with District 916 – which provides vocational opportunities for students in the northeast metro – after seeing bids as high as $15,000 that didn’t fit the bill.
“We didn’t want to throw that money around if we didn’t have to,” McDermott said.
He tried talking to WHS shop teachers, but learned they don’t do woodworking there anymore.
So he gave District 916 a try and hit pay dirt.
A program there includes building a few homes each year, so McDermott figured a small press box – about the size of an ice shack – ought to be in 916’s wheelhouse. Instructor Tom Spehn runs that program.
“He’s done projects much bigger than this,” McDermott said.
Spehn agreed to do the project with his group and work began in the spring.
And, McDermott noted, the price was right. District 916 members did the work as a community service project, while Woodbury baseball boosters only had to supply minimal costs for some building materials.
Once complete, the press box will be ready for WHS, Legion- and VFW-league games.
“That will definitely be utilized,” McDermott said.
The press box is just the first step toward dressing up the field.
In August, workers will install a turf mound, a turf plate and grass baselines connecting home plate to first and third bases.
Right now, McDermott and his players go out and drag the dirt and chalk the lines.
“It’s kind of a pain,” he said.
With the improvements, there will be less maintenance required. McDermott noted that turf additions will allow players to take the field earlier – rather than having to wait for the frost to melt on the mound.
That project – with an approximately $20,000 price tag – is paid for by fundraising through boosters.
“I’m proud of the way our kids have worked and the way parents have supported that stuff,” McDermott said.