Photo: New turf and a renovated visitor’s press box at the Westbrook Christian football stadium are just a few of several recent upgrades to the school’s athletic facilities. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Westbrook Christian School campus in Rainbow City has undergone quite the facelift over the past several months.
As a result of a significant financial contribution from the school’s athletic booster club, The W Club, Westbrook’s athletic facilities will soon rival the top high schools in the state, from Class 7A on down.
Improvements for the football and soccer facilities include turf for the field, new fencing, new press boxes for the both the home and visitors stands, new restrooms, a renovated concession stand, an expanded field house, new home locker rooms for the girls soccer teams and additional parking adjacent to the home stands.
“This is the best turf they make, so it’s been a blessing for our soccer teams since they’ve been able to play a lot of games at home,” said Westbrook athletic director and head football coach Drew Noles. “The grass field never got a break, because both football and soccer practiced on it and played on it. It was always beaten down, plus last year we had army worms that took over [the field] last summer. “Last year we practiced [football] on the P.E. field in front of the school, but it was very aggravating in getting all of the equipment from one end of campus to the other. It’s going to be really nice to be able to do everything on one field. As far as the new girls soccer renovations, coach Holly Ostendorf and many parents were involved with that.”
WCS Principal Cindy Greer pointed out that hat none of the funds used for the improvements came from the school budget.
“We’re very grateful to have our supporters like the W Club investing in our school this way,” she said. “Just watching what God is doing here is amazing. We don’t want to grow too large, because we want to keep the ‘family” feeling we have, but we also want to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of those people who God sending to us. We’re always praying through about what our next step will be.”
Greer is aware that the school must have a full complement of educators to accommodate the expected high number of students.
“It goes back to, “Seek first His Kingdom, and all things are added.’ We know that God won’t send us all these families and provide all these upgrades and then forget about sending the teachers. We’re praying that God will send us teachers who feel they are called to be here.”
For baseball, the re-christened Matt Kennedy Field received new sod, new netting, new centerfield blackout, new turf in the foul territory area, new storage building, new bullpen and renovated home and visiting dugouts. In addition, the home and visiting stands will be expanded.
To top it off, the recently completed indoor baseball training facility includes batting cages, pitching machines, coaches’ rooms, a conference room and restroom facilities. The back inside wall of the building features the jersey of every player Westbrook baseball player who signed a college scholarship.
As for the school’s basketball and volleyball programs, a new gymnasium will be built on the current P.E. field to the right of the school’s main building on Westminster Drive. The facility will feature two full-sized basketball and volleyball courts along with lobby area, a 2,000-square foot weight room and upper and lower bleachers. Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 19.
Noles said that the new gym would help create playing space for junior varsity, ninth grade, and seventh and eighth grade basketball teams.
“We’ll still use the other gym for varsity competition, but we’re looking to eventually have five teams in total, boys and girls, so just being able to get the kids to practice and get them home at a set time will help parents not having to drive back and forth [to campus] all the time.”
Noles said the improvements started last summer with converting the visiting football locker room into the girls’ soccer home locker room. As soon as the football season ended, work began on the installation of the turf. The press boxes, restroom and concession stand improvements began earlier this year.
“One this is all finished, it will be as nice [a facility] as any one around here,” said Noles. “People are paying to come to school here, and they’re getting beautiful facilities to compete on and to be proud of. We’re thankful to those folks who have donated, either with time or money or both. It’s definitely been a blessing to watch it come to fruition. I think it will help athletics at our school and give our student-athletes something to be proud of.”
According to Greer, there has been an “unprecedented” amount of interest in applying for admission for the 2022-23 school year prior to the start of the enrollment period starting Monday, April 11, so much so that a waiting list might be necessary.
“I guess that’s a good problem to have,” she said. “I think that it’s all combined, in that people want their children to have a good Christian education, especially in this day and age, along with seeing the facilities we’re being able to add. This is an exciting place to be right now, and we’re just trying not to get in God’s way!”