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Stadium can build community teamwork

October 08, 2005|By Greg Slick

As the North High Athletic Boosters Club Inc. works to complete fundraising for the Mike Callas Stadium, the debate over public funding for this facility continues to divide our community. We are so grateful to all of the individuals and businesses that have made donations and pledges towards construction of the stadium.

However, there have been an equal number of taxpaying citizens who have declined to contribute because they feel that the local and state government should fund this public school facility. The North High Stadium Committee has listened to the voices coming from both sides of this debate and we feel we have worked to raise the necessary money by seeking both private and public dollars.

I have a deep commitment to this project. My desire to see this facility completed comes from my 32 years of experience, both as a player and a coach who has had to deal with the inequity of having a high school without proper athletic facilities.

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With the growth of sports for young men and women at all public schools, the administrators at North and South Hagerstown High Schools have worked cooperatively to schedule as many events at School Stadium as possible. I take issue with the statement that "No educational dollars should be spent on the construction of this stadium."

The North High Boosters Club has never asked for money that was designated as instructional funds nor have we placed this stadium as a priority over other school-construction projects. We realize that classroom space and school renovations should be the priority for those who allocate tax dollars. We only ask that all public officials and private citizens appreciate the teaching and learning that will occur while children are involved in co-curricular activities.

Anyone who has played or coached at any level will tell you that some of life's best lessons can be learned while involved in athletics. In an editorial on Aug. 7, The Herald-Mail stated that "...athletics, like band, teaches students discipline and how to work with others as a team..."

Interscholastic sports are not a diversion, but an extension of educational programs. From my earliest experiences as a player, all of my coaches worked to instill in their players values such as sportsmanship, fair play and self-control. Being a member of a team teaches the importance of hard work and practice. Athletics encourage a student to set goals and to work toward achievement of these goals.

There is much that can be said about a passion for excellence that leads to a dedication to tasks. Sports teaches kids how to face adversity. Those competitive skills that are learned on the field will be used later in life. Being involved in sports helps young people develop leadership and communication skills to a far higher degree than sometimes occurs in a classroom.

There is so much personal growth and development that occurs while children are involved in athletics. Excellent programs will increase an athlete's self-confidence while challenging him/her to improve and exceed expectations.

Even being on a losing team will teach the lesson that perseverance in the face of adversity encourages determination, and that in spite of great effort, failures occur. I hope that every athlete who takes part in sports will learn that the effort and the struggle are more important than the outcome.

I also hope that this community will continue to value teamwork as a positive character trait. Please continue to support your local school in any way that you can. Let us work together to afford this generation better opportunities than were afforded to us.

Greg Slick is a teacher and coach at North Hagerstown High School.

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