OKLAHOMA CITY - Fields & Futures has already built 22 athletic fields for Oklahoma City Public Schools and, in the next few months, as part of 'Operation: First Day Ready,' they're going to be building several more, including at F.D. Moon.
"Probably softball in this corner, baseball this corner. We'll have a sidewalk going through the middle with shade structures right here in the middle," Fields & Futures Co-founder Tim McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin and his team at Fields & Futures are busy, gearing up to build fields for schools being repurposed as part of 'Pathway to Greatness.'
"So, we got the phone call from the district and said, hey, we're going to go this route and create six new middle schools, and I know that's not in your master plans but can you help us?" McLaughlin said.
Building fields at six new middle schools plus another at Classen SAS Middle School and a new softball fields at the former Northeast Academy - it's a multi-million-dollar investment, using private and public funds, making softball fields like the new one at Southeast a possibility.
"Our kids were having to go to different school districts, or other high schools or middle schools to compete because all we offered them were these pastures with broken down fences, holes bumps,” said Dr. Sean McDaniel, superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The nonprofit 'Fields & Futures' started in 2012 when McLaughlin and his wife, Liz, toured the school district.
"Each site that we stopped at, we just became more bothered, and more bothered and more bothered by the shape of what we were seeing on their playing fields and knowing what it meant to our kids," McLaughlin said.
Since that time, something even bigger happened for the district:
- Higher GPAs
- Fewer disciplinary issues
- Higher graduation and attendance rates
"Our participation rates have gone through the roof,” McDaniel said. "Every other aspect of a student's life is influenced in a very positive way because of what happens after school in these programs.”
It's proof, when you build it, they will come.
"We're ready to get those built so we can have 1,500 more kids getting those results, which helps our city," McLaughlin said.
Fields & Futures said no schools they’ve worked on are closing.
Fields & Futures still lacks $350,000 of the funding they need for the $2 million project. They've been speaking to possible donors, including professional baseball player Matt Kemp from Midwest City.