COVINGTON, GA -- Veterans Memorial Middle School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to unveil its newly laid softball field. The unveiling comes after a year of preparations, and with Friday also doubling as the softball team’s first home game of the season, the school community couldn’t have been more pleased.
“Having a new field is really good,” softball head coach Christopher Nugent said. “We can now build a good softball culture here at the school."
Before having its own field, Veterans Memorial shared a field with neighboring Turner Lake. The lack of a home-field advantage was something Nugent felt hampered the program's growth.
"On our old field, it was like an away game every time," he said. "So a lot of the students, they can now come out to the field. The teachers and the parents now come out to the field and support the girls here.”
Previously, in the time it would take the team to get to Turner Lake, the opposing team might have already arrived, warmed-up and chosen its dugout.
Nugent’s team would then, at best, have about 10 minutes to warm-up before the first pitch – putting it at a clear disadvantage.
Veterans Memorial assistant principal and athletic director, NiQuan Alston, along with the school's administration, decided to introduce the field with some flair in hopes of getting across the message that the school is entirely behind the softball program.
“Our students want to see their classmates at their games, Alston said. “You're not often going to find our kids being able to travel from here to Turner Lake to see their classmates play, and now they've got the opportunity to walk right down [to the field] and show that support to the other kids. And that's going to help our team.”
The team itself has expressed gratitude for the new field. Nugent says his Lady Generals are more ready than ever to begin a softball season.
“They're really excited,” Nugent said. “I'm happy for them, too. The energy is up. The morale is up. [Friday was] their first time playing on it. We’ve practiced on this [field] plenty of times before, so now they have a good sense of home-field advantage.”
Team captains Gerielle Dumervil and Makinzie Johnson both were grateful for the team's prior arrangement with Turner Lake, but know there is nothing like having your own.
“I'm very appreciative of the new field,” Johnson said. “I love the new field, and I'm happy that we have our own field. And I also want to say thank you to Turner Lake for the previous years of letting us play at their field since we didn't have our own, but now we have our own, and we can play our home games.”
Alston suggested that the dedication of the softball field is only a small indicator of the school’s mission to making sure it’s athletic facilities have a positive role campus-wide.
“This doesn't just impact softball,” Alston said. “This impacts our school because in the spring when it's a lot cooler than it is now, the gym coaches take the kids out to the football field to do activities. But now they can go on a softball field and use the field for activities as well. It doesn’t just directly impact softball. It impacts Veterans, the community and everything as a whole.”