08/15/12 — Charity builds Spring Creek soccer fields

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Charity builds Spring Creek soccer fields

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 15, 2012 1:46 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Construction of what is envisioned as a school and youth soccer complex at Spring Creek High School is at least a month behind schedule because of July's rains -- yet it is still years ahead of where organizers thought it would be just months after getting started earlier this summer.

It is a clear indication that even in tough economic times people are still willing to lend their financial or volunteer support to a worthy project, particularly if it benefits a community's children, said Dan Bowen, a member of the Spring Creek Youth Association.

Also contributing to the success is the fact it is a joint effort of the association, the Spring Creek High School Booster Club, the school and Wayne County Public Schools, Bowen said.

"This is everybody coming together to benefit the children," Bowen said. "This is a need that the Spring Creek community needs as long as it doesn't impede on the future growth of the school. All we are doing is modifying dirt to start with.

"We are not like building something out there. We fully understand that we might have to give it up, but when we give it up we are going to give it up in better shape than what we got it in."

Initially, the idea was to build two youth-size soccer fields at the school and possibly perform some rehab work on the school soccer field, Bowen said.

"Where we are now I figured would have taken us two to three years, but the response from the community has really overwhelmed us," said volunteer Chris Bryson, owner of New Horizon Towers, Inc. "It has carried us this far. I really appreciate it."

In just a short time, the volunteers have raised $43,450, and another $25,000 should finalize the project complete with lights and at least one small set of bleachers on the high school field.

"A lot of it is Chris Bryson," Bowen said. "He just knows a lot of people. Chris builds cell phone towers and he has done this in his peak time. I can't say enough about him."

Donations are still being accepted and are tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to the nonprofit Spring Creek Booster Club, with the notation "Soccer Project." Checks should be mailed to the club in care of Spring Creek High School, 4340 Indian Springs Road, Seven Springs, N.C. 28578.

The Spring Creek Youth Association soccer program serves 75 children in the spring and 85 in the fall in grades one through six. The soccer fields would reach even more children on the middle and high school levels, Bowen said.

The problem in the past has been a lack of playing and practice space, said Bowen, who became involved with the Spring Creek Youth Association soccer program five years ago.

"So we started soccer, and we really didn't have a place to go," Bowen said. "It was at the same time as other sports so literally when I started we would practice in a parking lot -- a dirt area, and that is where we practiced. It was frustrating. We didn't have a lot of goals, didn't have a lot of anything. We were trying to develop the project."

Bowen said that Spring Creek High School Principal Stephen Clingan has been "wonderful" to work with over the past several years as well as Wayne County Public Schools administrators and the county board of education.

"Seeing the need, they allowed youth practices at the high school," he said.

The Wayne County Board of Education facilities committee recommended the soccer complex project to the school board that approved the use of the land, he said.

The current soccer field is the only existing field at the school that lacks a sprinkler system, making it difficult to maintain, Bowen said. Without the maintenance, foreign grasses have crept into the field leaving it unsuitable for soccer play so the school team plays on the football field.

As part of the project a 140-foot-deep well, that cost $5,000, has been sunk.

One of the first things done was to install the piping needed to properly drain the area between the tennis courts and existing soccer field. But even with the better drainage, a steady succession of heavy rains has twice washed away efforts to "crown" the fields, Bryson said.

The rain also hampered efforts to kill off the grass on the existing field. The chemicals are no sooner spread to kill the grass when a heavy rain washes it away before it can work, he said.

"If we could have two weeks of minimal rain we would have already have had the project done," Bowen said. "We could be through in two weeks, I think, if we could just get a break in the weather. The big thing that really surprised us -- we got enough money to do phase one. Lo and behold we had someone at the school who said, 'We have 90-foot poles that are used for lighting. You can have them if you can get them.' Another guy came up and said, 'I just took these lights down from a field over here, but they are fine. I can recondition them and sell them to you for a deal.'

"So while we thought that in time we would try to light these fields, it might be a year or two because you can only go to the well so much with corporate sponsorships. They are willing to help, but everybody is pulling on people who are known to give. We are so close to where we could light these fields. We have the poles, we have reconditioned lights, probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Tri-County, I believe, has indicated they would put them up for free."

A shelter built nearby will serve for storage on one end and concessions on the other. Fencing has been installed to deter people from using the fields even though signs were in place telling people the fields were off-limits.

"People were coming on the weekends, playing on the fields and tearing up the goals so we are trying to prevent that," Bowen said. "This is for the school and the youth only. It is not for weekend use."

For more information about the project call Bowen at (919) 581-3612.