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First steps underway in addressing local sports facility issues

Xs and Arrows

I hope by now you all understand when it comes to athletics my feeling is that while the pros are entertaining and add value to society, the true value of competition is found in our kids. Athletics lays the foundation and teaches hard life lessons that more often than not are no longer taught in the classroom or life in general.

My passion for sports centers on the youth, and helping them with that same foundation that I benefitted from; the foundation that helped launch a successful career. I regularly apply athletic principles to by day-to-day work and advocacy.

You may have read recently that the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club is taking more of an advocacy role when it comes to our athletic programs and specifically our facilities situation at Tehachapi High School. I encourage you to read last editions version of Xs and Arrows for some context. The Warriors Boosters are a partner of the Tehachapi Unified School District but occasionally, even partners need to be called to the carpet if one is not holding up their end of the deal.

On September 13, I addressed the Tehachapi Unified School District Board of Trustees providing a Booster Club update, which recapped the last year of fundraising the thousands of dollars we have provided our teams for uniforms, travel, tournament fees, training equipment, facility improvements and so on. I also took the opportunity to address the board on the shameful conditions of many practice and competition facilities and the neglect that they have been subject to. I also called on the board to establish a standing "Facilities Committee" to help create a plan for both maintenance and planning, and construction of future facilities on the current THS campus, as our current digs have simply run their course.

I would like to thank Trustee Tyler Napier for not allowing the issue to simply be passed on to staff, but for formally requesting that the standing facilities committee be voted on at the next school board meeting on Oct. 11.

While that address certainly received plenty of press and attention, I want to let everyone know I did not thoroughly enjoy it – I do not like addressing insufficiencies of some people who I consider leaders, friends and colleagues – but back to my original point, nobody was advocating for the kids, so as they say, I shot my shot.

To the credit of Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson and others, the district immediately reacted with repairs to practice facilities and a more robust maintenance schedule to ensure the safety of our student-athletes is never jeopardized again. They also pledged to communicate with the Boosters, athletic department and coaches more consistently to address their needs and provide adequate game and practice facilities within monetary reason. It should also be noted that an expert consultant on Kern County prep facilities is also being courted to assist the district in making more educated decisions on facility repairs, especially to some of our older venues. Given the pedigree of this consultant, the hope is they might lend a hand in the long-term planning for facility replacement, as well.

I look forward to continuing down this road with our school district leaders, trustees and staff members as we all share the best interest of our kids. I firmly believe that the Booster Club's role is not just to raise money and support our teams, but support their needs, as well, and occasionally ruffle a few feathers to have their best interest served. I hope to not have to do that again but nothing gets my blood pumping more than kids getting the short end of the stick, especially kids sharing my alma mater and the brother/sisterhood that comes with that.

I hope you will support these efforts to plan, fund and eventually build new high school athletic facilities, as we are taking the first steps in hopefully making that a collaborative and much-needed reality.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at [email protected].