With the Gainesville Independent School District approving $2.5 Million for a tennis complex and turfed baseball and softball fields at Monday’s board meeting, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County is in line to earn some welcomed relief.
Last season, several youth softball and baseball games were rained out and the teams were unable to find another field to play on, so they were forced to cancel the games.
Chief Operating Officer Marvin Royal said the approval of the turf fields is great news for the Boys and Girls Clubs.
“We were limited to the days that we could play and making a partnership with the school district, having the possibility that we could use those fields to get our games in is going to be a big benefit, not just for the Boys and Girls Club, but also for the community,” Royal said.
Royal, who is also a GISD board member, said the turf field plans have been in the works for a little while.
“It just being kind of one of those deals that’s been in the near distance,” Royal said. “We wanted to get something that’s going to be beneficial long-term and with the turf on both the baseball and softball fields, it’s going to cut out a lot of manpower for the upkeep of the fields.”
As the COO and a board member, Royal said it is has always been important for him to give back to the community.
“One of the reasons that drew my wife and I back to Gainesville, is we want to raise our kids in Gainesville,” Royal said. “We want to raise our kids in this school system and this community, so we’re the type of people that want to be all-in. Being on the school board and the Boys and Girls Club allows me to deal with kids and have an impact on kids. Being involved in the decision-making process is one of the things that allows us to be able to be involved in the community, because we love this community.”
Royal said it was important for Gainesville to keep its kids in its own district and the fields and tennis complex are ways he sees helping the situation.
“Looking at the numbers, I think we have almost 500 to 600 kids leaving our school district to attend outside school districts in the county and all those kids that we’re losing, we have to figure out a way to keep those kids,” Royal said. “It’s a challenge because we have to build and put in a process that we have to build. We have to generate a product that’s going to make people want to stay here that’s going to attract people.”
Royal credited GISD Superintendent DesMontes Stewart for helping solidify the approval of the tennis complex and fields.
“Dr. Stewart has been great to this movement,” Royal said. “He has brought us a next-level leader into our school district, who’s opening our district’s eyes as to what we can become. And so with that, he’s bringing his knowledge and his experience to the school district to say, ‘Hey, we got some challenges, but there’s a whole big upside to our challenges and where we can improve.’ And those are the things that he’s putting in place.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip