$2.3 million project includes grandstand, press box, concessions, artificial turf

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Construction continues at Valley Catholic High School's athletic field.Before this fall, playing in or watching a football game, soccer game or track event at Valley Catholic Schools has been a decidedly minimalist experience.

Bleachers were few and intermittently placed. Restrooms as well as concessions were of the portable variety. Both home and visiting teams dressed in locker rooms inside the high school building. Players contended with the mud and slop of natural turf. Sportswriters covered games from the sidelines.

When the Valley Catholic Valiants football squad takes on the Estacada High Rangers on Friday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m., all that will be different. Athletes, students, parents and fans will be greeted by a renewed athletics complex at the 43-acre Valley Catholic Schools campus on Southwest 148th Avenue.

Permanent, grandstand-style bleachers will accommodate 550 spectators. A field house will provide locker rooms for home and visiting athletes, who will play on freshly installed artificial turf. Concessions and restrooms will be of the bricks-and-mortar variety, and members of the news media will have a bona fide press box from which to cover games and file stories.

The $2.3 million renovation project, for which a groundbreaking event was held in May, promises to be a breath of fresh air for Valley Catholic athletics as well as a new jewel for the entire community’s enjoyment.

“Now everything there is first class,” said Athletic Director Joel Sobotka, noting the project started with field lights installed in summer 2013. “It’s great to see everything come into shape. It’s really going to enhance our campus.”

The multipurpose field, surrounded by a multi-lane track, will serve Valley Catholic’s football, soccer, lacrosse, track and other athletics teams from its early learning, elementary, middle and high schools. Those not directly affiliated with Valley Catholic have opportunities to use the facilities as visiting athletes as well as through sports camps such as the Catholic Youth Organization. A new practice field next to the regulation field will provide further options.

“All our sports and P.E. classes are going to benefit from this,” Sobotka said, noting the school will be more likely to host higher-profile events such as soccer and football playoffs and championships. “Now we’ll get to host those games. The improvements will allow more students more time on the field. With natural turf, (players) tore it up more often.”Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Longtime Valley Catholic secretary Pat Joyaux, along with the IT Team, will finally see new changes to the front of the school.

The athletics complex project is not the only difference Valley Catholic students will notice when school commences next month. The high school’s main reception area, which hasn’t seen changes or upgrades since it was built in 1969, is also getting a makeover. In addition to cosmetic upgrades, the office entrance will be repositioned to make it more welcoming and safer for students.

“We wanted to turn it around and make it more friendly and inviting,” said Barbara Kerr, spokeswoman for Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries, the umbrella organization for Valley Catholic Schools. “Students and families will be greeted with a warm smile when they walk in.”

She credits longtime administrator/registrar Pat Joyaux with championing the improvements and expects her to put them to good use.

“She knows every student by name,” Kerr said. “She takes a very personalized approach.”

Bob Weber, president of the St. Mary of Oregon campus schools and former Valley Catholic teacher, said the athletic facilities improvements jibe with the school’s move up to Division 4A, while the reception-area upgrades create a positive impression for nearly everyone who walks into the school.

“When we opened our new K through eighth-(grade) building next door, our high school went from being one of the nicest buildings on campus to not the nicest building on campus,” he quipped. “The main office is our main point of contact. The difference will make it a brighter, more user-friendly area. The early reviews are good. People like the space and what it does for the building.”

Weber sees the athletic field as a re-polished jewel for the whole community.

“It’s for the entire campus, and we’re going to use it for all kinds of stuff,” he said. “Various sports and club teams will help us carry on our excellent campus tradition. This makes us feel like a special place where kids come and get involved. It’s a special part of what we do.”

The renovations, which also include painting and new wall surfaces at Valley Catholic’s Early Learning Center, reflect the school’s commitment to improvements while being responsible financial stewards.

“The sisters have a longstanding tradition of doing a great job managing our resources,” Weber said. “It’s not about things being gaudy or over the top, but at the same time, the things they build, they build to last. They want it to look good.Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Workers continue painting and revamping Valley Catholic's Early Learning Center.

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