Public gives input on sports complexesWORTHINGTON — School and city officials, coaches, parents, students and various community members exchanged ideas for the future of Worthington’s athletic facilities during an open house Thursday evening at the Worthington High School cafeteria.
WORTHINGTON — School and city officials, coaches, parents, students and various community members exchanged ideas for the future of Worthington’s athletic facilities during an open house Thursday evening at the Worthington High School cafeteria.
The overall consensus from the crowd of more than 50 was that more athletic space is needed to lessen scheduling conflicts and make tournament play possible.
The consulting firm Hoisington Koegler Group Inc., was brought in to conduct a needs assessment of the existing facilities. Its overall findings and suggestions for improvements will be presented next month.
Brad Scheib, vice president of the firm, said the group will incorporate the public input into the plans.
“There’s a need to create a stronger organizational structure that manages the scheduling, maintenance and programming,” Scheib said, adding a space for tournaments is also needed.
“The people who use and pay for it are the ones who have the say,” Scheib said of why public input is needed.
Sarah Lais, a Worthington mom of three athletes, attended the open house to hear ideas about what improvements can be made over time.
“Some of the bigger issues are the fields are deteriorating and there’s not enough places for us to have practice or play games,” Lais said. “A town this size should have nicer facilities.”
She suggested having a baseball complex with all of the diamonds in one area, which would allow for tournaments.
“There are a lot of different groups trying to use the diamonds,” said Stacy Sauerbrei, Worthington High School baseball coach. “We would like to explore the idea of adding diamonds so we (don’t) have scheduling conflicts.”
He also said baseball diamonds deteriorate over time, especially when they are used frequently.
“This is a really good idea to bring everyone together to visit about some exciting improvements,” Sauerbrei said.
Joni Reitmeier, Worthington’s gymnastics coach, showed up to the meeting to be a voice for her athletes because “gymnastics is sometimes a lost sport in the community.”
If a new facility is to be built, she said she hopes gymnastics won’t be overlooked.
“It’s going to take a fight just because it’s not as popular of a sport,” Reitmeier said. “I think (people) should care because kids would continue to do it if it was more popular.
“Right now our facility is very old,” she continued. “On the upside we’re able to keep our equipment there and hold the sport year round, which is very important.”
The current facility is lacking in enough bathrooms, parking space, adequate lighting and proper seating, she said.
Another major problem is that it’s located downtown, away from the high school, she said.
Ideally, Reitmeier would like a larger facility that’s closer to the school.
The coach said her sport takes a lot of time and dedication.
“They know what it’s like to work hard at something, which I think is an important life skill,” she said.
“Money is tight, and this is a working class community,” Reitmeier said when asked if taxes should be raised to fund future athletic projects. “I would never put sports in front of people’s livelihood.”
“What I’m seeing is a really nice turnout of people who are engaged in trying to help us figure this out,” Independent School District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said. “I would like to see a long term direction established that has definite goals in mind to accomplish putting together quality facilities.”
“The turnout shows that sports are a big deal,” Reitmeier said. “Kids do better in school, stay out of trouble and have a better future (when in sports).”
Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.