The athletic facilities at Olentangy Liberty High School could be getting a significant upgrade in the near future. The athletic department at OLHS is currently undergoing a fundraising campaign that would pay for the construction of a 5,200-square-foot multi-sport facility at Patriots Stadium, which would benefit all fall and spring sports.
Included in the new facility would be four locker rooms, a state-of-the-art training room, meeting and video rooms for teams and coaching staffs, as well as public restrooms at the baseball and softball facilities.
“This new multi-sport stadium facility will better serve our Liberty student-athletes and coaches for years to come,” Liberty Athletic Director Darin Meeker said. “We strive to make the student-athlete experience an extremely positive one, and enhancing our facilities is a part of that.”
Mark Johnson, who chairs the fundraising committee for the Olentangy Liberty Athletic Boosters (OLAB), said the need for the new facility is a safety matter, first and foremost.
OLHS has averaged more than 1,300 student-athletes over the past three years, outgrowing the current size of the school’s locker rooms. Johnson said the current varsity locker room has lockers in the showers out of necessity and lack of sufficient space. He added opposing football teams dress in the auxiliary gym due to lack of space in the visiting locker room.
In addition to the size of the locker rooms, their location inside the school building creates a lengthy walk to and from the field for student-athletes and game officials. In instances of inclement weather, the only option for athletes and officials to get inside is to make the trek from the field back to the school.
While the new facility will immediately benefit the outdoor sports in the fall and spring sports, there will also be a residual benefit for the indoor sports who currently must share locker room and training room space with all sports. Meeker said some of the spring sports that previously haven’t had any type of locker room facility will have those accommodations with the new facility.
The campaign has a targeted goal of $1 million and will utilize only private funds, meaning the Olentangy Local School District will not contribute a dime. Last week, the Delaware County Finance Authority awarded OLHS $50,000 as part of its first “AAA Award for Excellence in Academics, Athletics, and Arts.” In total, the fundraising campaign has brought in around $450,000 thus far, with more fundraising events to come this summer.
The OLAB has partnered with Windfall, a professional fundraising group, to assist in the campaign. Windfall utilizes a program called “33×3” in which they analyze businesses’ operating costs and negotiate with vendors to secure lower rates for the business. The money Windfall saves for the business is broken down into thirds — 33 percent of the savings going to the business, Windfall, and, in this case, to OLAB for the new facility campaign.
Johnson said the goal is to hit the $1 million target by Aug. 1 to allow for construction to get underway and finished by spring 2020.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.