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Coming together to renovate Tatascore field

The Tatascore baseball field at Ithaca High School that is in need of renovation and a new scoreboard.
By Alexis Forde and Mallery Rockwell

The Ithaca High School Athletic Booster Club Association is fundraising to renovate the Tatascore baseball field at the high school. In its first year conducting this type of fundraiser, the club is hoping to reach their goal of $15,000 soon.

The fundraiser marks the first time the booster club, the Ithaca High School Board of Education, the community and Ithaca High School alumni have come together to raise money for an athletic team.

Mary DePalma, a professor at Ithaca College who is on the executive board of the booster club, developed the idea to involve alumni in this fundraising endeavor.

“This is how things get done in colleges a lot of times, from the alumni getting on board and helping assist,” she said. “Why can’t the same model work for the Ithaca High School Alumni?”

Along with the alumni, many community members have contributed to this project as well. Bill Romani, who is an Ithaca High School alumnus assisting DePalma and the booster club with this fundraiser, explained how he reached out to the Ithaca community for their help.

“The strategy has been to use social networking and email to help inform people about the project, but then using direct relationships and direct communication to make asks to raise the money,” Romani said.

The community has been very receptive to these efforts and has been forthcoming in cooperating with the people in charge of this project.

“It’s encouraging the way in which the board of education can partner with the local community and the Ithaca High alumni all for a singular purpose of helping the current student athletes,” DePalma said.

Some of the renovations to the field include correcting the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, correcting the elevation of the playing field and making sure the fence in the outfield is the proper distance. DePalma explained why the most important renovation of all involves the scoreboard on the baseball field.

“The existing scoreboard doesn’t turn on and it faces the wrong direction. We are the only school in the district that has a scoreboard that looks like that,” DePalma said. “We think that our student athletes deserve a scoreboard, to be able to show what inning we’re in or how many outs there are.”

Romani mentioned why he feels that it is so important for this baseball team to have this field renovated.

“I’ve been involved with high school and collegiate sports and understand how important the scholastic athletic experience is for young people,” Romani said. “I think that to make that a positive experience, they have to have facilities that they can be proud of but also facilities that are safe to participate on.”

Along with raising money for renovations on the field, others involved with this project from the district, such as the Ithaca High School Athletic Director Jeffrey Manwaring, have been helping out in other aspects.

“I’ve tried to be the liaison between the booster club and the district,” Manwaring said. “So each step in the process, trying to work with the booster club and with the district so that we can all work together and accomplish the same thing; it’s all for the kids, that’s what we’re doing.”

Manwaring said that the school doesn’t have to use the lowest bid and could have gotten a scoreboard for half the cost of around $7,000, but that getting the more expensive scoreboard is worth it. The help provided and technical support from the workers involved with the scoreboard are two benefits that are covered by the cost.

“Anything that you purchase or buy you get what you pay for and if you buy something for $7,000 I guarantee it’s not going to be the quality of when you’re paying $15,000,” he said.

Manwaring also explained why renovating this field hits close to home for him.

“Baseball has always been my love and passion,” he said. “I would do it for lacrosse or softball, football, whatever but especially because of my connection and passion for baseball, that was the simple thing, and I was really glad to see it.”

Manwaring said one of the biggest concerns currently is convincing the district to commit to installing the scoreboard through a scoreboard company rather than an architectural engineer, which would double the cost.

“That’s a significant amount of money and if the district is required to use an architectural engineer the cost automatically is pretty much going to double, so we’re talking 20,000 dollars,” he said. “I’m hoping that I can convince them that having the scoreboard company install it for $5,000 or $6,000, whatever it is, that they’ll be okay with that.”

DePalma said that since this is the first year the booster club is having a fundraiser of this kind, it is basically a trial run. Romani also said that if the project goes well, this could open the door for future fundraising opportunities for other sports teams or clubs at Ithaca High School.

“We’re hoping that this is a model for future projects not just athletics but for future projects at Ithaca high school to follow, to help improve the academic and extracurricular opportunities for the students at Ithaca High School” Romani said.

Having only started this fundraiser in October, the booster club has already raised around $11,055 which means they may be well on their way to having more fundraisers like this one. Though DePalma remains cautious, she hopes to have this field renovated and the scoreboard up before the baseball season is over.  

“For the boys, for the spectators who would like to see the score and for that kind of use of reinforcement principles to our donors, I’d love to see [the scoreboard] up this year,” she said. “I remain cautiously optimistic and hopeful.”

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