Open letter of support for Gilpin's Fighting Eagles Stadium and Track Facility

Coach Ball support letter for gilpin county school
Gilpin Football and Track Rendering 

Craig S. Ball, Head Football and Track Coach
c/o Gilpin County RE-1 School
10595 Highway 119
Black Hawk, CO 80422

October 8, 2017

Re: Support letter for Fighting Eagles Stadium and Track Facility

Dear Reviewer:

I am writing this letter in support of the project to establish the Fighting Eagles Stadium and Track Facility at Gilpin County School. I serve as the Head Football and Track Coach for the varsity teams and also work as the technology teacher at the school. There are a variety of reasons why this facility would be of particular benefit to our students.

Currently, our field is composed of natural grass, which poses some difficulties in light of our elevation at 9,000 feet. The cool weather and short growing season make it difficult to maintain the turf on the field. Our mountainous landscape is rocky, with unfertile soil and harsh, intense winds. Painting the field is likewise problematic, given the frequency of snow and precipitation in the region. Also, the rough ground creates a hazard for our players, who often suffer multiple lacerations from dirt and rocks in the field. Due to the mountainous terrain, there is a lack of flat areas to utilize...we are currently using the game field as our practice field for both the High School and Middle School football teams. The double duty puts added stress on the surface. The sidelines are also difficult to maintain; we currently provide a temporary solution of mulch to try to mitigate the issues with mud and water near the bleachers and concession stand. A permanent grounding in the areas surrounding the field would make the facility much safer and more navigable for disabled and elderly spectators. Artificial turf is a necessity for the rocky mountain landscape.

The investment in the excavation has been completed...including our planned expansion for growth to 11-man ball in upcoming years. We already have excavated space devoted to an area for shot put, discus, and long jump. We intend to build facilities to provide a safe location for filming and game announcing. Currently, the excavated area presents a liability and hazard for our school, since minors have been attempting to climb up the rock face. We need to secure this area as well. Given the frequent lightning storms in our area, a secure field house with public restroom facilities is needed for spectators--particularly for those with disabilities. We are not currently in compliance with regulations for disabled accessibility.

A primary goal is to build a track. Our track team has continued to grow and expand, with our first runner going to state this past spring. We have a banner in the gymnasium for track, but this banner has remained empty. Part of the lack of prior development of our track team came from the fact that we lacked a track on which to practice. Our runners must travel about 30 minutes to get to a track facility, which is a hardship and liability with icy mountain roads. Also, we have been unable to host any track meets due to the lack of facilities. By building the track program, there is a direct beneficial impact on our football program, since speed, agility, and strength are all essential traits of successful teams. The track could also provide useful training for our basketball and baseball teams.

One of the great advantages of the improvements proposed for the Fighting Eagles Stadium will be the permanent lighting. On August 9th, 2017, CHSAA adopted a new resolution emphasizing Friday nights are the official night for high school football in Colorado. Currently, we do not have permanent lighting for our field, which requires us to access costly and impractical temporary lighting devices when evening games are scheduled and play all other games on Saturday afternoons. Friday night football games are a big draw for spectators, and it is well known that community support drives passion, commitment, and excellence for a football program.

In sum, the proposed changes include the development of an official track, an artificial turf field, permanent lighting for night games, facilities for the field house, public restrooms, and re-surfacing of the spectator areas and parking lots. These advancements would serve to sharpen our teams, provide safety and handicap accessibility for the public and the students, and allow our student-athletes to develop to their fullest potential.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional details regarding these requests.

Craig S. Ball
Head Football and Track Coach
Gilpin County School
Gilpin Football Web Site