Coal Ridge pushing for own baseball field

A young Garfield County high school that has begun to build a successful baseball program now hopes to build a field where the team can play.

The Garfield Re-2 School District plans to seek a $200,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help pay for a regulation-size field at Coal Ridge High School, located between Silt and New Castle.

Garfield County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to request the grant on the district’s behalf and chip in $30,000 toward the project.

Coal Ridge opened for the 2005-06 school year. Its first year, 19 players joined the baseball team, which didn’t win a game all season.

Last year, 33 players participated and Coal Ridge qualified for the first round of the state playoffs.

However, the team must play its home games in Rifle. And it practices at an undersized field in New Castle, where errant hits often end up in Elk Creek.

“Every time we hit a foul ball it costs four bucks,” Coal Ridge coach Steve Ryan said.

Ryan said the current arrangements create transportation challenges for players.

“Our kids also are missing out on that sense of pride of having a place to call our own,” he said.

The school district is rounding up support for the project from the communities of Rifle, Silt and New Castle, all of which face demands for field space for youth and adult players.

The district was working up a final estimate for the field Tuesday. Theresa Hamilton, the
school district’s director of districtwide services, said the cost could be about $450,000. The school district plans to contribute $150,000 toward the project.

Coal Ridge Principal Jeanie Humble said the school is willing to do without lights and bleachers if needed, as long as players get a field.

“We would go bare bones just to have a place for them to play at Coal Ridge,” she said.

County Commissioner Trési Houpt worried whether $30,000 from the county would be enough to assure the field gets built. District officials anticipate gathering private donations and in-kind support for the project.

“The people in this community I think will make this happen,” Humble said.


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