Turf field among renovations coming at St. Charles East
As the athletic staff at St. Charles East High School like to say, it is always a great day to be a Saint.
Soon, it will be an ever better day to be a Saint.
Last month, the St. Charles East Athletic Boosters announced a fundraising initiative to renovate various athletic facilities during the 40th anniversary of students attending the high school at the Dunham Road campus.
The efforts will proceed in four phases.
On April 9, the District 303 school board approved the installation of an artificial turf field at historic Norris Stadium. The St. Charles East Boosters have committed to funding $200,000 toward the cost of future maintenance.
Work on the field is expected to begin on June 1 with completion set prior to the Saints' football home opener against Glenbard North on Sept. 7.
"It is long overdue," said Robert Stackhouse, St. Charles East Athletic Boosters president. "We would have been the only high school in the (new) DuKane Conference playing on grass."
Phase two includes an already approved expansion of the weight room to become a fully-equipped Fitness Center serving male and female student-athletes from all 31 school sponsored sports.
Every student will see use of the Fitness Center through required Physical Education classes.
"There will be something for everyone when it is completed," said Saints athletic director Michael Sommerfeld. "The current weight room was not large enough to meet the needs of our athletes, much less the student population as a whole."
The Booster Club has earmarked approximately $200,000 toward equipment that will fill the completed Fitness Center.
"With these improvements, we are looking to support every student's efforts in the areas of strength, endurance, flexibility, speed and agility," added Stackhouse.
Both the turf field and fitness center are expected to be completed before the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
The installation of a new gym floor/basketball court and bleachers along with a refurbished indoor track surface is slated for the summer of 2019 -- subject to the School Board's selection of the winning bid.
"The current gym floor is the original floor," said Dr. Charles Kyle, St. Charles East principal. "It can no longer be stripped and refinished."
The third phase would involve décor and electronics upgrades surrounding the main gym and lobby, including a donor board.
The final phase would be the renovation of the aging Norris Stadium concessions area that would include the installation of permanent bathrooms and a team meeting area.
"We're working with the School Board and John Baird (District 303 assistant superintendent of operations) on a five-year capital plan," said Stackhouse. "We've been working on it for well over a year and started getting real serious the last 10-11 months.
"This is a once-in-a-generation effort to rehab the athletic facilities."
Since the move to the Dunham Road site north of Route 64 in 1977, St. Charles (East) High School has captured 35 state championships in 9 different sports -- baseball, boys golf, boys soccer, boys swimming, girls cross country, girls golf, girls soccer, girls swimming and girls volleyball.
"You move here for the academics but also athletics," said Kyle, a St. Charles resident currently in his seventh year as St. Charles East principal.
Ironically, the youngest children of both Stackhouse and Gary Dellostritto, St. Charles East Booster vice president, are seniors.
"It's a little bittersweet but this is not to benefit our kids," said Stackhouse.
It will, however, benefit the community.
"As Bob (Stackhouse) said, the Mayor is also a four-decade resident of St. Charles so therefore the Mayor has a very, very important responsibility for promoting St. Charles and all of its components, public and private, that contribute to the greater welfare of our community," said St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina, one of the guest speakers at the kickoff fundraising event held Monday night at Club Arcada in St. Charles.
"I believe a strong school district, its programs and facilities, are a cornerstone to the continued quality and well-being of the community. Brains and brawn go hand in hand."
Bob Teichart, who became the Saints' original swimming coach in 1975, served as the featured speaker Monday night.
His first team finished 1-11.
Two years later, the Saints placed third in the state.
Two additional years later, his team captured the state championship.
"We had swimmers move to this community," said Teichart, now an author and motivational speaker. "Back then, the top three schools were New Trier, Hinsdale Central and St. Charles. From 1979-1987, St. Charles won seven state championships, Hinsdale won one and New Trier won zero."
The overall goal of the Boosters is to raise more than $800,000 by January of 2019.
"Giving gives us way more fulfillment than simply giving of our time and talent," said Teichart.
Rogina summed up the night's events in true orange and black colors.
"Go Saints," he said. "God bless all of you and God bless the City of St. Charles."