'Dream' facility in works for Hillsboro youth softball players
It rains in Oregon. That shouldn't be news to anyone in this state. But because of that — and especially in the wake of record spring rainfall last year that forced Hillsboro area high schools to play a record number of games off-site due to unplayable field conditions — never before has there been a higher demand for indoor facilities capable of housing teams and players looking for somewhere to practice.
Count Glencoe as one of those teams, and Oregon Thunder Softball as an organization looking to remedy the problem.
The Thunder, with help from Glencoe High School and a number of local private businesses, has broken ground on an indoor hitting facility to provide a place for Hillsboro area girls of all ages to hone their skills during and beyond the spring and summer seasons.
"It's been more than a three-year project that started with the former Glencoe coaching staff," said current Glencoe head coach Jason Eastman. "There's a need at Glencoe, as well as the other local schools, and the Thunder organization wanted to help out."
The Thunder has been hosting tournaments at Hillsboro Stadium, the Washington County Fairgrounds and Liberty High School — working parking and earning a small percentage — with a cut going toward their cause. They also created a fundraising webpage that uses PayPal to accept charitable contributions to help pay for the facility. To this point they've collected roughly $70,000 of the facility's $84,000 estimated cost. They hope to have the necessary funding to complete the facility next spring.
"It'll be huge to have a place where the girls can work on their craft during the season and during the offseason," said Eastman. "These girls work their tails off and they have goals and we try to help them reach their goals. This is the type of building that can help them do that, and also a place where the young girls can find a passion for the sport."
The group studied a number of existing facilities, including the building at Westview High and other Metro League schools, before settling on a plan. The proposed facility is 72 feet by 48 feet, with 16-foot eaves and 12-foot doors at each end. It has three lanes separated by netting, and will allow for a 19-foot staging area for girls to congregate — and it could someday house lockers.
"We tried to obviously find the most efficient plan possible, and get the most bang for our buck," Eastman said.
The original plan was to put the structure where the current outdoor facility — consisting of exposed netting and dilapidated turf matting — is located, just left of the existing varsity softball field at Glencoe High School. But zoning issues forced them to move it closer to the school, south of the tennis courts near the freshman baseball backstop. In the process, the idea of moving the varsity softball diamond further from the road resurfaced, with organizers suggesting moving the varsity field to the freshman field location and putting the junior varsity field where the varsity field currently sits — creating two quality softball diamonds, and putting the practice facility near the new diamond where it can also double as a snack shop during games.
"We'd love to take Glencoe from one field to two fields and a hitting facility," said Eastman.
When the building is complete, it will be turned over to the Hillsboro School District and be accessible to student-athletes of all ages.
"From 8-year-olds, to junior high kids and through high school and college girls home during summer and winter breaks, this is for them," Eastman said. "There's really nothing available to them in this area now."
The group has received significant contributions from local businesses like Platt Electric, who'll being doing all the electrical work, the Hillsboro Hops, Northwest Engineers, Alliance Engineering, Baker Rock and Hampton Lumber, which is providing the lumber necessary for the facility. The Thunder donated $25,000, and Glencoe is contributing as well, but the groups are still looking for additional funding and directing interested suitors to their website.
"If people want to donate $10, $100 or whatever, it all helps," said Eastman.
Upon completion, there will be a donor plaque onsite to thank all the project's contributors.
"It's about growing the game and giving local kids the best opportunity to compete," Eastman said. "The girls deserve it."