High School Sports: Alice to unveil new multipurpose indoor facility
ALICE –– Alice head football coach and athletic director Kyle Atwood stood like a proud parent in front of the school district's state of the art multipurpose facility on Tuesday.
With the official ribbon cutting ceremony set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Atwood knew the long-awaited day for Alice to join the list of high schools with indoor practice facilities had finally come.
The $3.1 million multi-use facility, which began construction in 2019, will offer a safe haven for all Alice athletes and students.
The 37,028-square-foot building, which includes a 60-yard artificial surface built west of the high school's athletic department, will also feature men's and women's restrooms, an equipment room, a mezzanine to look over the facility, garage-style doors, retractable batting cages and a retractable curtain for soccer.
“They’ve seen it for a year now since the groundbreaking and what it's took to get this facility completed," Atwood said. "It’s phenomenal once you get in, and I think our kids are going to be amazed."
The hot days of summer and the lower winter temperatures will no longer keep athletes from enduring grueling practices.
The facility will also include indoor air conditioning, heating, fans and rolling garage doors for students to use to their benefit.
Atwood said with asphalt reaching up to 120 degrees in Alice, practicing indoors will allow student-athletes to remain comfortable and safe.
“It enhances the students and athletes in our programs,” said Alice baseball coach Nick Alvarado. “We have an opportunity to practice during bad weather days or days with inclement weather. It’s definitely a game changer for our students.”
A vision for success
Mike Cochran always talked about Alice ISD upgrading its facilities when he became president of the school board in 2012.
Cochran couldn't present his ideas as a board member so when he retired in May 2019, the first thing he did was propose the idea of building a state of the art multipurpose facility that would benefit Alice athletes, band members and students of the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
"I presented it to the board in a special presentation," Cochran said. "Our superintendent, along with a lot of citizens in Alice, started a task force and we finally got into a situation where we could build something."
The Alice Independent School District board of trustees approved $4.5 million in funding in 2019, but the board pulled funds for the indoor facility from the general fund balance.
Fast forward to April 2021 and construction is complete, the turf is installed and the ribbon separating Alice students from their new sports haven will soon be cut.
“The whole community played a part –– I was just a small cog in the wheel," Cochran said. "It’s a great facility for the kids and we have a lot of deserving kids here in Alice. We have a great superintendent and coaching staff that put together a lot of things for our kids. We’re coming along and doing what other schools have done. It’s taken a little longer, but I think we've built a first class facility."
Not just a "sports facility"
The decision to build the playing turf 60 yards –– starting from one 20-yard line to the other was to accommodate the school's band.
Atwood said he wanted the band to practice just like they were outside, but in more comfortable temperatures.
"I think we’ve done a really good job to ensure every kid is going to get something from it," Atwood said. "It’s something that’s going to give our kids an opportunity to compete at their highest level. We’re excited.”
The school's ROTC program will also be able to practice inside the facility and athletic period will be held indoors with sports teams having first priority.
If there's inclement weather, whoever is in season will be able to use the facility first.
“We’re going to be using it for every sport at some point," Atwood said. "When they go in for strength and conditioning, speed and agility work and biometrics... Sometimes we'll have three to four teams in there at the same time.
"It's not just for our student-athletes, it's a multipurpose facility that’s going to enhance every kid here in Alice."
Future of Alice athletics
Alice joins other Coastal Bend schools such as Orange Grove, Flour Bluff, Calallen and others to feature an indoor multipurpose facility.
Atwood said what separates Alice's facility from the rest is they didn't want it to only be a complex that offered a place for athletes to take shade during bad weather.
"When we first looked at building this facility, my thoughts were building something that’s going to give us an opportunity to get out of weather. We didn’t do that," Atwood said.
Atwood said he envisions the facility benefiting the future of Alice students and athletes for decades.
"The facility is going to be here for the kids who are in kindergarten now," Atwood said. "They are the ones who are going to be able to use it. We have a facility that’s going to do wonders for our kids for 20-30 years from now."
Rey Castillo is sports reporter for the Caller-Times and a graduate of Texas A&M-Kingsville. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @reycastillo361.