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Friday, July 25th, 2014

Vision being realized at Roughrider Field

By Colin Foster

Rees McKee (left) and Chris Falk (right) are two of the volunteers who have been. . .

ST. MARYS - The process began at Roughrider Field 18 years ago.
Though the renovations are still on-going at the home of the St. Marys soccer teams, the facility has slowly but surely turned into what Dave Ring and community members envisioned.
It's taken a great amount of volunteer work from a lot of different hands, people who continue to donate their time to make the facility better. Volunteers have ranged from parents to past and current players to board members to random people throughout the community.
"So many people have helped and it was what we told the school board when we did this," said Ring, the boys coach who has been at the school for all 18 years. "We told them if you helped us with the money part for the materials, we'll get the people to come out. It's been excellent.
"I can't give enough credit to the volunteers. The man hours ... I wish we would have kept track, but it's got to be in the thousands. It's just unbelievable."
Here are some of the changes that have occurred over the years: The National Guard removed trees from the playing area 18 years ago. The field was leveled and widened and an in-ground watering system was put in. Lights were added in 2000. Dugouts were brought in to seat teams. Volunteers spent all of last summer taking a used, rotting old press box and transforming it into something to be proud of. After the press box was refurbished, the St. Marys Foundry helped them transfer it to the current playing field, and then heat and air conditioning units were installed. This summer's big project is adding bleachers with a seating capacity of 500. The bleachers are expected to be up in time for the St. Marys' girls home opener against Anna on Aug. 2.
"Each step has been a slow project to get it to where it's at today," Ring explained. "What you're seeing today is a lot of, a lot of work."   
The locker rooms will be the final piece of the puzzle, though Ring said it depends on what will happen with the football stadium down the line.
"It's incredible what we've been able to do," Ring said. "The cost savings overall is the biggest thing and we wouldn't be able to do it without it. The school system just simply can't pay for that. Somebody once asked what was our contribution. Well, I think that answers it. It's not money, but it is a lot of work and a lot of hard effort."
The volunteers are working to make the facility a place the players and community can be proud of, Ring added. The St. Marys soccer programs have enjoyed much success over the years. In 2010, the girls' soccer team were Western Buckeye League champions and reached the state final four. Last season, the boys' team captured the league title on their way to a regional final appearance.
"We were in the final eight last year (in the state)," Ring said. "We're having success in the program and we're also building it up so the kids have something to be proud of."
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