With the spring sporting season once again on the horizon, many student athletes are gearing up for another year, this time in the midst of Project Paradise construction. The Project’s efforts have already produced Penn Station Stadium, McNick’s first ever fully-functional, all-weather football and soccer field and rubberized track. Director of Athletics Rob Heise spoke with The Milestone about what Project Paradise has in store for the school this year.
“The biggest advancement will definitely be the track,” Heise said. “This will be the first time McNick will be able to legally host track meets, which will be a huge advancement come springtime; the Athletic Department is very excited to have other schools join us for the several meets this year.”
The idea for Project Paradise came from a committed group of parents, alumni, and friends of McNicholas with a common goal – providing student athletes with a home-field advantage. Generously supported by sponsors, the Project Paradise Committee has worked to raise the funds necessary to give the school a first-class athletic stadium.
The eight-lane, all-weather running track is just one of the advances being made towards the completion of Project Paradise. The softball field will also receive minor improvements this year with a new patio and easier access to the field thanks to the paved parking lot. With the football/soccer field fully installed, a state-of-the-art scoreboard in place, and a brand new set of bleachers for spectators, the next step in the process pertains to baseball.
“We have plans to upgrade the baseball field, thanks to a very generous donation from Total Quality Logistics, who had a specific request that we use the money for that program,” said Heise. “There will also be a special area added behind the backstop of the field to serve as a place for spectators to best view the games.”
Project Paradise is proving its benefit to the McNicholas athletic community. Since the inaugural football game on October 16, 2010, the complex has served as the school’s home field, both for football and soccer. Heise said that the improvements have certainly had a positive effect on the team morale.
“Athletes want to be playing on nice facilities. And I think there’s a great sense of pride that comes with being able to invite teams from other schools to compete on quality fields, or run on a top-notch track,” he said.
Players, of course, are able to see the benefits of a home-field advantage first-hand. Now, track runners and football players alike can share the experience of competing in their own stadium.
“To be able to participate at home games on our own home field is a great honor. It makes me proud to be a McNicholas football player,” sophomore Alec Marcum said.
Track and field runner, sophomore Joseph Paquette said that he was very excited to be able to run on the first McNick track.
“Being able to host track meets and home games gives the school a sense of home-ness that didn’t have before,” Paquette said. “I’m going to find it more exciting to play at McNick now that we have our own ‘home turf’.”
Heise hopes that the improved fields and facilities will attract new students to the school. The Athletic Department hopes that new and upgraded places to compete will draw in more athletically-inclined students.
“Every aspect of Project Paradise is going to have a positive effect on the school’s image. Not only will it serve as a wonderful recruiting tool within our division, but as everything builds on itself, I think we’ll be able to give our students a real sense of pride in their school,” Heise said. “It really is a beautiful thing to be able to walk out there and see students practicing, to see students playing games at a place they can be proud of. In the end, they’re the ones who matter.”
For more information on Project Paradise, click here