By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Members of the Board of Selectmen, School Committee members, Westborough High School (WHS) staff, students, and local business people alike gathered June 12 at WHS to celebrate the beginning of construction project for two athletic fields that has rallied broad community support in recent months.
The event was a groundbreaking ceremony for the project dubbed “Rangers on Track,” held in the shadow of one of several pieces of heavy machinery already working to have the fields ready for play in the fall. At the event, many of those involved in organizing the project thanked the community and its many businesses for not only supporting but funding large portions of the effort.
“It’s been fantastic,” said Athletic Director Johanna DiCarlo. “It’s been a really collaborative process between some local community members and parents in town that wanted to see this happen, then the town officials, and finally, the donors some of whom are here today have helped contribute to the finances that made this possible.”
With a price tag close to $3 million, the project has been in the works for roughly two years. Over those years, what began, DiCarlo said, as an effort to simply renovate the school’s stadium evolved into plans to now convert the two fields, Joseph Mewhiney Field and Jimmy Hayes Field, into turf fields.
Mewhiney was a former football coach, physical education teacher, athletic director and vice principal at WHS. Hayes, a graduate of the class of 1972 who passed away in 1993, is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Rangers on Track committee has formed a fundraising subcommittee with the intent of raising at least $500,000 for the project. The funds will be raised through a combination of gifts/sponsorships, events such as a recent golf tournament and donations and grants.
On the project’s website the donors are listed including: Founder – Central One Federal Credit Union; Champion – Avidia Bank, Westborough Civic Club, Cumberland Farms, Westborough Athletic and Social Association, and Middlesex Savings Bank; and MVP – The Shunney Family, The Johnson Family, and Main Street Bank.
Many of those donors were present at the June 12 ceremony.
Also present were members of the late Jimmy Hayes family. In addressing Hayes’ family, WHS Principal Brian Callaghan promised that Hayes’ legacy would not be forgotten amidst the new construction.
“This field was named carefully and thoughtfully,” Callaghan said. “That matters to us.”
The expansion will allow WHS teams more space to practice and play, alleviating some of the current competition between many of the school’s teams for playing time on the stadium field.
Likewise, in addition to the turf fields and the lights, the project will build an 8-10 foot retaining wall into a hill overlooking one of the fields several years after part of that very hill collapsed onto the field, covering much of it in sand and dirt.
Overall, many behind the project are excited to see its impact on Westborough as a whole, and frequently repeat their thanks to their donors and allies in town government for helping them.
“This is going to be the crown jewel of the community,” DiCarlo said. “We’re really trying to enhance, not only our student athlete’s experience, but to provide some really unique playing surfaces for our town sports, the physical education department, really just the community in general.”
(Photos and video by Dakota Antelman)