East-West notebook: Stadium upgrades should top district wish list
Dec. 19, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.
Victoria Independent School District got one large gift with a giant bow on it from the city and its voters in 2010.
The school district unrolled its wish list a few years ago to voters, and topping it was new schools. And the district got it: two glimmering, high-tech high schools built on opposite ends of the city.
And the city celebrated. It went from a high school campus bursting at the seams with teenagers to two brand new locations with comfortable space for all and new amenities. All's well so far.
Next on the district's wish list, I would hope, are upgrades to the district's 44-year-old football stadium.
Memorial Stadium opened in 1966. It has seen some upgrades, like the addition of artificial turf, a new scoreboard, aluminum benches and, this fall, red rubber track surfacing.
But time is catching up to the football stadium as newer facilities surpass it.
The stadium's capacity, just right for this city it would seem after this season, is still on the small side. The visiting and home locker rooms are small; neither East nor West used the facilities at any great length, instead busing back to their respective campuses.
The press box is small for any stadium. Hallways are wide enough for one person, regardless of size.
The sound system still uses horns that are circa 1966. It's barely audible on good days, and unintelligible all the time.
It's also ill-equipped for even rudimentary radio broadcasts. West radio broadcaster Ash Wade had to dial into the radio station using a cell phone for home broadcasts for several weeks because there wasn't a functioning phone line in the radio booth.
Coaches who are not on the field are crammed into small booths with sight lines that allow them to see maybe 30 yards at one time.
Don't get me started on the restrooms.
A lot of online commenters wondered openly how a program such as Victoria East, or West, could reach the level of schools such as Lake Travis and Cedar Park.
There are a lot of things involved in that, many of which involve the players and coaches that are beyond politicians and the communities' grasp. But a certain chunk of that comes back to having adequate facilities for the teams.
Victoria falls short here.
Having taken the San Antonio stadium tour throughout November and, before that, trips to Refugio and Goliad to see their shimmering new (and large) facilities for football and basketball, it's easy to see why.
Memorial Stadium is far from decrepit. It hides its age nicely compared to other buildings and stadiums built at the time (see: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which opened the same year). But the reality is that it's an old stadium that hasn't seen much in the way of serious improvements since it was built.
And it's not as if I'm asking for a video scoreboard, although that would be nice. Some suggestions:
Expanding the dressing rooms, making it so the home teams don't have to hightail it back to their home campuses to shower.
Adding more seats so the capacity is larger would make the stadium a more attractive location for high school playoff games.
Expanding the press box, and adding the necessary wiring so that it has more than one functioning phone line. While a press box big enough to get lost in is a bit much to ask for, enough room so that media, scouts, stat keepers and coaches don't have to fight over the few open seats isn't.
Victoria ISD spent millions on its new schools and new facilities. The city now has two state-of-the-art high school campuses, a sleek new middle school, a giant swimming pool complex that could be the envy of the area and will soon have a performing arts center to rival most major cities.
But many of its major sports facilities still lag behind. And considering the money and prestige they bring to the city, I suspect they will be the next on the agenda.
BASKETBALL MID-SEASON UPDATE
The Titans have an impressive record, and, when they've been on, have run almost every team off the court. The problem is that, according to coach John Grammer, the Titans have turned it off as much as on in some games.
While they beat both Ingleside and Corpus Christi John Paul II, both were schools that shouldn't have been close at the end of the game. Finding and maintaining some kind of consistency will be key to the Titans' success as they open 2011.
The Titans play at Corpus Christi King on Tuesday evening before heading out for the holiday.
The Warriors are all about bringing along the underclassmen on the team this season. They are a half-court team that will rely heavily on determination to get anywhere during the district season.
Sophomore James Murphy has impressed as a ball handler so far, and junior Drew Erskine and junior Jeremy Jimenez have both played well at times. But as a team, they still seem to lack the chemistry necessary to make it far in the playoffs.
And developing that will be key heading into the district season. This team has playoff talent, but putting it together will be the challenge.
The Warriors close out their schedule before Christmas on the road at El Campo. Game starts at 2:30 p.m.
The Titans can play a full-court press with the best of them and rely heavily on being able to run the court. When this is working, they are unbeatable.
The problem is that they are susceptible to being trapped themselves. They need senior Erin Gomez in the back court because she brings varsity experience from the year before at Memorial.
Gomez missed the Corpus Christi Carroll game, and her absence hurt the Titans as the Lady Tigers went to a half-court press and almost stole the game. Being able to play their game will be central to the team's success in the district season, since at times it has been easy for opponents to knock the Titans off of it.
The Titans have one more game before Christmas: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., at home against Angleton.
The Warriors have almost no height, something coach Sandra Jimenez points out. What they do have is a strong defensive and offensive back court in Sevanah Campos-Reyes, Emily Skipper and Eboni Murphy, the latter of which is one of the most impressive ball handlers in the area.
They can break the press, they can all shoot and they all are able to run circles around teams. Add in players like Treka Franklin and Tiffanie Wyatt, who make up for a lack of size with tenacity, and you have a team well on its way.
Being able to maintain that energy all season, especially with only eight on the varsity roster, is a must for the Warriors in the district season, which doesn't figure to be easy with top-ranked Floresville looming.
The Warriors play next on the road at Tuloso-Midway Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. to close out their schedule before Christmas.
John Hornberg covers Victoria East and West for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at AdvoSports.com.