There's a new baseball/softball practice facility and the gymnasium receives a complete overhaul

Rex Putnam High School has received special recognition from the Oregon Athletic Directors Association for improvements to the high school athletic facilities.

JOHN DENNY - Putnam students proudly display their Best Facility Remodel Award, posing with their new Kingsmen logo padded chairs in front of a new padded safety pad behind a basketball backboard. Pictured are: (left to right) Mikayla Schweinsberg, Sydney Nichols, Aaron Dolfay, Zach Potts, Jesse Countryman and Faith Whittington.The school received the 2015 “Best Facility Remodel Award” at a meeting of the state’s athletic directors, held last month in Sunriver.

“There’s one award for all the high schools in the state, all levels, and we got it,” said Putnam athletic director Jesse Eveland.

Eveland said that improvements made at Putnam over the last year have included construction of a baseball/softball practice and hitting facility, and a host of improvements to the high school gymnasium.

Eveland says the 120-by-50-foot hitting facility has six batting cages, with sliding partitions that will accommodate 12 areas for soft-toss. There are also portable mounds that will allow as many as six baseball pitchers to practice at the same time.

“It’s really big, and it’s nice,” Putnam softball outfielder Mikayla Schweinsberg said of the new baseball/softball practice facility. “It’s nice, because we’ll have a lot of space to do a lot of work when we can’t be outside. And you can practice with real balls instead of whiffles.”

SUBMITTED - New banners indicate the years in which Putnam sports teams have won league titles.The gymnasium remodel includes repainting of walls from floor to ceiling, installation of a new state of the art sound system, replacement of league banners, replacement of the safety pads behind the basketball backboards, and the addition of padded chairs for players and coaches in volleyball, wrestling and basketball.

There are school banners for each sport, with the years that Putnam teams won league titles on the banners. And there are banners for Putnam sports teams that have won state championships.

And this summer the gymnasium floor will be refurbished and a 10-foot-tall Kingsmen mascot will be painted at center-court.

Eveland says the newly painted walls, with lighter paint near the ceilings, have made the lighting much better in the gymnasium.

Putnam junior Zach Potts says he likes the new padded chairs and the wall pads behind the basketball backboards.

“It makes us look a lot more uniform,” he said. “When other teams come to your gym, you want it to look nice, and it does.”

“It’s cleaner and brighter,” Putnam junior Faith Whittington said. “It just looks a lot nicer. I think it’s something we can be proud of. It makes us look good as a school and a community.”

“And I really like that we have banners now that show what sports teams have done in the past,” Whittington said. “It’s nice to know what we’ve done as a school; and it shows us where we can improve.”

Eveland says the improvements are being accomplished with district funds, money raised through student fundraisers, and donations of money and labor from the community.

“A lot needed to be done and we had the resources,” Eveland said. “Now the focus is on keeping good coaches and building our programs.”

Eveland emphasized that the improvements were a community effort.

“They wouldn’t have been possible without participation from the entire community,” Eveland said. “From the school district, to Friends of Putnam Baseball, to athlete secretary Sandi Hansen, sponsors, parents and volunteers — everyone involved with Putnam athletics. It’s been a total team effort.”

Eveland said the next big project will be making the varsity baseball field at Putnam playable, so that the high school team can play varsity home games at the high school, instead of at Alder Creek Middle School.

“It is my hope that will can get baseball back at the high school within the next two or three seasons,” Eveland said.

“Regardless of whether or not it’s with an artificial turf infield,” Eveland added.

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