Bond passage impact will include new highlights for Big Rapids’ home sporting events

When the Big Rapids school renovations are completed, one major change will be moving home varsity football games from Top Taggart Field to a newly renovated outdoor multi-purpose use facility at the high school’s current football field. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Home varsity football games and home track meets at Big Rapids High School.

It’s coming.

The passage of a bond issue last week will mean significant upgrades in athletic facilities for Big Rapids including a multipurpose field and gymnasium when the projects are completed. Varsity football games are scheduled to shift from Ferris’ Top Taggart Field to the high school site, which will have synthetic turf.

“The baseball, softball, soccer and practice football fields will all receive drainage improvements,” Big Rapids athletic director Dawn Thompson said. “The baseball and softball fields will also get new scoreboards. We will be adding new tennis courts and a multi-use gymnasium/flex space while renovating our track and field to a multi-use facility.

“The multi-use gymnasium/flex space and tennis courts will be new while the other facilities will all be renovated. We are excited to see better drainage on all of our athletic fields. The current track and field will be renovated and become a multi-use field able to host football, track, soccer, band, and community events. Currently, we can only host JV and rocket football games on the existing field and are unable to host high school track meets.”

There’s no firm date yet on completion of these projects.

“We are in the early stages of the process and will be working closely with our team to prioritize the components of the bond prior to starting each project,” Thompson said. “We are extremely thankful of the support from our community in the passage of this bond and look forward to working together to carry out the bond.”

Many sports are likely to be impacted.

“The plan is to put the tennis courts where the existing ones are, but adding an additional one so we have eight,” Thompson said. “The multi-use gym/flex space will be connected to the east side of our current gym.  The multi-use field would host our varsity football games along with the other events. As for a completion date. That won’t be determined until we are able to meet as a team and prioritize what aspects of the bond need to be completed first.”

Varsity coaches are anticipating numerous benefits from the projects’ completion.

“We are very grateful that the community supported the bond and all of the improvements it will provide for our kids and community,” football coach Mike Selzer said. “Speaking specifically to the multi-use field and track facility, this will allow us to conduct practices and host games regardless of the ground conditions.

“Though we are very grateful to Ferris for allowing us to play at Top Taggart we are looking forward to having games on our home field. This allows us to bring back some past traditions as well as establish new ones. Playing in front of our home fans in a smaller complex will provide a more traditional high school atmosphere, promoting school spirit and community connections.”

Basketball coaches are looking forward to more practice space.

“It will be great for our kids and parents to not have such late practices,” boys basketball coach Kent Ingles added.

Track coach Chase Gibson is looking forward to home meets.

“I will be forever grateful for the Big Rapids community for passing this bond,” he said. “I moved to Big Rapids 20 years ago, and have fallen in love with the compassion and close knit-ness of this community and what it can and has provided (in) opportunities for my family back then. My first season, as a high school athlete, we would run down to Ferris’ track for our practice on a daily basis. I remember how terrified the freshmen were when we would be practicing with Ferris’ football team on the field.

“I also remember the feeling when we eventually were able to practice on our track, where we can just be teenage kids and not have the pressure of college athletes watching us. It was such a huge relief knowing we didn’t have that pressure upon us during our workouts. I look forward to our current student-athletes as they will have the opportunity for their friends, classmates, family, distant-relatives, and neighbors to be able to witness what they have put forth the effort in training at a home meet or invitational.”

Gibson noted the impact the new facilities will have on the community and students.

“Having the opportunity to perform in front of friends and family at a home event is of tremendous value for our students,” he said. “It will inspire the youth by witnessing the many programs our school district provides by hosting events that many youth do not see very often, such as marching band competitions, cheer, robotics, etc. I believe we will see a strong growth in all our extracurricular activities as a result. The faculty, parents, students, and alumni will always be grateful for the many opportunities that are to come.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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