SSISD breaks ground on new athletic track

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept 17, 2007 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District has put its best foot forward with the construction of the new fine arts wing and science hall at the high school.

Staff Photo by Butch Burney

SSISD administrators, school board members, coaches, fans and athletes gathered Monday morning to mark the ground breaking for the new outdoor track. Kneeling in the middle (left to right) are former board member Norman Sanders and current board members Don Sapaugh and Clay Johnson. Over Sanders' right shoulder is athletic director Greg Owens, (left to right) board member Jacquelyn Brice, Superintendent Patsy Bolton, board members Carolyn Thomas, Foy Williams, Jack Chubb and Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed.

Pretty soon, SSHS athletes will be putting their feet on the latest addition to the high school campus — a new outdoor, all-weather track.

SSSISD administrators, coaches, school board members and fans gathered Monday morning to ceremonially break ground at the site of the new track, adjacent to the tennis courts and softball field on Gladys Alexander Drive.

Against a backdrop of earth-moving machines already on the site, athletic director Greg Owens said dirtwork will begin as early as today or Tuesday, and that the timeline has the track ready to use by Thanksgiving.

"It's an exciting time for all of us, especially the athletic department," said Owens. "We're extremely appreciative of our community, administration and school board. This is something that's been needed for a long time athletically.

"Some people think that only a few people run track. Last year alone, we had over 200 kids participating in track. It's going to be used year-round from cross country to the normal track season in the spring, and even for summer and our off-season program."

Earlier this year, the administration recommended, and the school board approved, construction of a new track because the existing track at the middle school is in disrepair, high school students must be bussed over to it, and there is too much activity for one facility. The board set aside money to be used this budget year for the construction.

Owens is a believer that track benefits all other sports. Through participation in track and field, athletes get faster, more flexible and more agile. It also develops a stronger mental outlook.

"I feel like track needs to be the basis for our athletic program," he said. "Not only does it develop speed and quickness, it also develops discipline and a work ethic. It's not easy to go out there and run a quarter, but when a kid can dominate and conquer that, then mentally they've prepared themselves to compete."

SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton thanked the board for its progressive thinking and said she was as excited about the track construction as she was with the other physical plant improvements at the high school.

The first phase of the track construction is for the track, jumping pits and fencing. Bleachers, concessions, rest rooms and parking will come later.

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