After a referendum passed in the fall of 2018, the wheels were in motion for an overhaul in the outdoor sports facilities at Big Foot High School.
With nearly $8 million in improvements, the Chiefs will soon be competing on some of the best fields and courts in the region.
However, with construction set to begin shortly, there will be some conflicts with construction crews and the spring sports schedules.
Fortunately for the athletic department, the varsity baseball and softball teams currently play off the school grounds, so there will be no disruption to their schedules. With tennis court construction not on tap until May 11 — after the last home meet — there will also be no major changes for the boys tennis team.
The junior varsity baseball team will not be as fortunate, though, and will need to play their home games at either Williams Bay High School or West Park in Darien. While athletic director Tim Collins currently has all games accounted for, if any weather postponements occur, it will be difficult for the athletic department to try to reschedule those games.
Hit even harder than the baseball program is the girls soccer team, which usually hosts games and practices at Big Foot. Instead, practices will be held at Duck Pond Recreation Area, and games will be held at Williams Bay High School.
Playing games in the Bay isn’t too out of the ordinary for the girls soccer team, though. With Big Foot and Williams Bay involved in a co-op program, the team typically plays a few games each year at WBHS to give the Bay players a chance at a true home game.
As far as holding practices at Duck Pond, head soccer coach Rene Perez sees a silver lining.
“It’s really nice up there — a lot of different-sized goals we can use, a lot of space. I think it’ll be good for everybody,” Perez said.
Another Big Foot sport will be forced to entirely relocate, as the school’s track will be torn up to begin construction on the new track and field and turf football complex.
With no track to run on, the boys and girls track teams will need to hit the road for all of their meets this season, and will need to get creative for their daily practices.
“We are just going to have to be resourceful and find whatever patches of grass we can to run on,” head coach Greg Lueck said.
Early in the track season, which starts the first week of March, practices will look the same for the track and field program as they always do. The cold weather in the first few weeks of every year keeps the team indoors, relegated to running in the gyms and hallways or pumping iron in the weight room.
Once the weather improves, the team will need to keep up those indoor practices, or run through the village’s surrounding neighborhoods to get their workouts in.
While the team’s runners have flexibility in where they can hone their craft, the athletes in the field events, like discus and pole vault, will have a tougher time.
In order to get some much-needed practice time in the proper environment, the field athletes will travel to surrounding schools like Badger High School or Delavan-Darien High School a time or two per week.
However, with those schools fielding loaded teams of their own, overcrowding could be an issue. To solve that, Lueck says the team is planning on having practice at odd times, like weekends and later in the evening, when the other schools’ teams aren’t there.
To even get the opportunity to share the track with their neighbors would go a long way in smoothing out the season, and for that, the Big Foot athletic department is thankful.
“It’s been a challenge, to say the least, but luckily our neighboring schools have been wonderful, and we’ve got great relationships with them,” Collins said.
This spring will no doubt be a tumultuous one for the district, but everyone involved is keeping their focus on the bright future instead of the challenging present.
“Believe me, it’s all worth it for the facilities we’re going to get,” Lueck said. “I will take this year and won’t complain one bit.”
Perez added: “Some of the players have played on turf before. We’re all excited about that new complex.”
Collins summed it up, saying: “This spring is going to be very chaotic, but in good way, because we know there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”