by Jim Mulligan
On the heels of a 2022 Division 1/Central Section boys soccer championship, Reedley High School opened up their doors to the public and media to show off an array of additions and improvements to athletic facilities. While many districts reeled from and scrambled to keep up with the myriad of problems that a pandemic caused over the last two years, Kings Canyon Unified kept its cool, addressed the needs of all students throughout a very stressful period, and decided to capitalize on the opportunities that some aspects of pandemic life presented. Prudent spending and judicious saving, along with fewer bodies on campus for a time, allowed RHS to finish up a brand-new field house complex, a brand-new soccer complex, and substantial facelifts to the baseball, softball, wrestling, and weight room facilities.
The total cost of all projects came in at about $10 million. While that definitely is a hefty sum, Superintendent John Campbell explained why it was time for the refurbishments and how the new facilities impact the whole school, “We’ve made improvements to all of our schools recently, including shops, classrooms, offices, and other safe spaces. Reedley High is a 110-year-old school, and as such many of the facilities needed some invigorating. We’ve been able to save money for many years in order to make these much-needed improvements. Additionally, a lot of pride for our students comes from a beautiful campus and updated facilities. Coincidentally, the COVID situation allowed us to move on some projects and cause less disruption to the operation of the school.”
Among the new additions to the campus is the Field House, which is really a multi-use building. One side houses two team rooms with lockers. These rooms also have teaching stations and can be used as classroom space. The center of the building has a coaches’ office and restroom facilities. The second half of the building is an open space that can be utilized for a variety of indoor activities, but primarily is the practice space for the girls wrestling team.
Another shiny new gem on campus is the dedicated soccer field, complete with seating for spectators and lighting for night games. Athletic Director Darren Minami commented, “It’s very unique in our area to have a field dedicated to soccer. As our boys and girls soccer teams have been signature programs for some time, it’s nice that they have a facility that they can call their own.” The complex was completed just in time to host a state championship match between the Valley Champs RHS boys’ soccer team and Branham High from San Jose. Soccer standout and member of the 2022 Valley Champion boys soccer team, senior Levi Alcantar said, “We are just very grateful to all of those who contributed to getting us this new field. It’s allowed us to bond as a team like never before.”
While the softball and baseball facilities are not technically new to the school, the modernization and additions to the existing areas on campus are substantial. In addition to new dugouts, the Lady Pirates upgraded their off-field facilities with new stadium seating for 344 spectators, modernized restrooms, new ticket booth and snack bar, and new score boards for both varsity and junior varsity fields. The Pirate baseball diamond boasts a new field and infield, new dugouts, bleacher seating for 344 spectators, and an elevated viewing deck and press box. Baseball fans will also be happy to see a new ticket booth and updated restrooms set in a beautiful entry plaza that gives a very major league feel. Senior ballers Ryan Warkentin and Will Gagnon are happy that they get to play their senior year on the new diamond. Warkentin was happy to let everyone know, “There was no better feeling that getting a win over Dinuba on opening night in the new stadium.”
Finally, the weight room and wrestling room, the building adjacent to the Pirate gymnasium is used by many students on campus. In addition to being utilized by the boys wrestling team, daily physical education classes have a great space for indoor use, including weight training. The rooms are now equipped with new audio and visual systems and equipment, and a partition that give the ability to create flexible and variable use spaces.
Take advantage of the warming temperatures and lessoned restrictions; take in a softball or baseball game and check out the new digs at RHS while supporting your hometown Pirates.