Forest Grove baseball and softball teams are enjoying the benefits of what could be a game-changing facility which opened on campus this past May.
Thanks in part to the Forest Grove School District, fundraising and generous donations, local baseball and softball players have an indoor hitting facility in which to groove their swings, improve their pitching acumen and even hone their work in the field.
"This is going to have a huge impact on kids in our community," Forest Grove High School athletic director Doug Thompson said. "Having an indoor hitting facility during the winter months is going to have a big impact on our youth baseball and softball programs. To be able to get kids swinging the bat during the winter months is going to be huge."
The 6,000-square-foot facility — which was funded by a combination of age-old bond money, donations from local contributors, and the Forest Grove Booster Club — was the result of a process that began just shy of a decade ago.
Originally, the plan was to take existing bond money and renovate the current outdoor facility near the junior varsity baseball field on the west side of campus.
However, as the process progressed, it became apparent to project planners that building an entirely new and fully enclosed facility would not only be of similar cost, but also serve as a more functional facility with inclement weather in mind.
"We obviously knew it was something that we needed," Forest Grove High School varsity baseball head coach Justin Engeseth said, "but we didn't start realizing how important it was until we started talking to some of these other coaches that we compete against. The most common term we heard was, 'It's a game-changer.'"
The facility cost roughly $105,000 and was built by Econ-O-Fab at a discounted rate. As a cost-saving measure, the decision was made to — at least for now — use gravel flooring instead of concrete, and turf from the recently refurbished Vikings football field was applied atop it.
Engeseth added that other vendors and local businesses, such as Parr Lumber, were instrumental in providing materials such as metal siding, garage doors and trusses at affordable rates.
"Today, economists have estimated the building to be around $330,000 at today's lumber prices," Engeseth said. "So, we got it done at the right time and with great help from these local partners."
Inside the facility, you'll find netting, screens and batting tees, pitching machines, and various other training tools, many of which were supplied at a gracious rate by Frye's Action Athletics. The building is 50 feet in width and 120 feet in length, allowing for up to five batting cages simultaneously.
Century High School offers a similar facility, and the Hillsboro School District owns and operates a facility constructed and opened on the Glencoe High School campus three years ago.
Forest Grove youth baseball and softball organizations, along with the high school programs, are allowed access to the new facility.
Engeseth said that in addition to the direct benefits of the new building, indirectly, he hopes to see an increase in baseball and softball participants as a result of the opportunity it will afford kids to get better all year-round.
"Numbers have been down, and not just here, but all over as a result of COVID," the coach said. "We've seen a little more participation this summer and all of our kids from last year have returned, and I think the building is a big part of that."
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