April 19, 2017WHITEFIELD — For years, the track teams at the White Mountains Regional High School have earned state wide notoriety for winning several state championships albeit without a track. It has become almost a bragging right to travel to the southern part of the state, win a title leaving many scratching their heads wondering how they did it without a track and field facility.
Athletes have used trails, hills, parking lots and classrooms as well as many other unconventional methods to train and excel at their individual events. While the thought of a new track facility would be amazing, some have questioned wether or not it would curb the tradition the Spartans have earned over the years.
Spearheading the project is Ken Mayer a para-professional in the Special Education Department at WMRHS.
When questioned about what prompted him to start the gears, he said, "Since working at the high school the past three years as a substitute teacher, I have had the privilege to meet and work with nearly every student and teacher at WMRHS. These remarkable students and teachers are most incredible in their ability and approach to making things works with what little we've got."
Mayer explained that during after school hours, being a sports fanatic, he quietly watched the different sports teams prepare for their seasons.
He said, "In particular, the track team was the most innovative in their approach to their sport. They had no track to train on. They had no facility for practicing the hurdles and didn't have enough hurdles to practice a full length race."
Mayer noticed that the track team along with all the other teams of the season ran the corridors of the high school as a training option.
Mayer said, "Otherwise, they ran on an unleveled, pot-hole filled parking lot and along the sloped, frost heaved Regional Road out to Route 3. The coaches rolled out side by side rubber mats up a sloped and uneven sidewalk to work on sprints and the jumping events. Though the coaches were most innovative in their approach. I was horrified by the poor facilities these students were asked to practice upon."
One day last April, while walking the campus grounds with student Jacob Gochie, Mayer explained that they came across a sloped field behind the horticulture class high-top hoop house.
Mayer explained, "The sloped field impressed me with the great potential of placing a track and field facility within a natural bowl stadium. Soon afterwards, Jake and I began some preliminary measurements of the site and soon made the commitment, to somehow, someway, build a track and field facility at the high school."
Mayer went on to say that after purchasing land in 2003 in Jefferson with his wife, he has been an avid reader of the Coös County Democrat.
"I read the paper for the news of the area, and in particular the success of the Spartan Athletic Teams," he explained. "I read, with amazement, the failure to agree to build a new CTE addition to the high school that provided 75 percent funding by the state. Unfortunately, this effort failed. This situation made it very clear that the tax payers of the SAU36 district would not want to finance a new track and field."
An alternative and innovative means of financing a new track and field needed to be studied. A unique, comprehensive plan was prepared.
Mayer said, "The WMRHS Boosters Club was influential in providing a means to start this process. Ben Oelson made the effort to make the Boosters a non-profit organization. By meeting with numerous alumni, faculty, administrators and students of WMRHS, a separate Track and Field Committee was formed to proceed with raising the necessary funds to build a new track and field."
The committees first meeting was held on April 8. Each person at the meeting was supplied with a list of potential grant targets. A Go Fund Me page is also in the process of being established.
Those in attendance looked at several spread sheets of funding scenarios needed to build the track and field. It was decided to focus entirely on the track and field project that included installation of all needed drainage, all underground utility requirements on the site within the actual track and field.
The price to build just the track is somewhere between $350,000 and $600,000.