OKLAHOMA CITY – John Marshall Middle School, which used to be Greystone Elementary, is just one of the sites getting upgraded school athletic fields in support of Pathway to Greatness.
“We’re working on the futsal court. They’re putting the paint down today, the first coloring, first layer. That’s going to be a futsal court and a basketball court with a shade structure in between it,” said Tim McLaughlin, Fields & Futures co-founder.
The blacktop may not look like much right now, but for John Marshall Middle School, it’s the sign of a new beginning.
“With the Pathway to Greatness, they were changing some of the elementary schools into middle schools, and so they were taking out playgrounds,” McLaughlin said. “They were trying to figure out, ‘What should we put back in place?’”
As part of Pathway to Greatness, some elementary schools in Oklahoma City have been reconfigured into middle schools serving 5th through 8th graders. This creates a need for athletic fields and facilities.
Now Fields and Futures will be putting mini-pitches in place at each middle school, thanks to a partnership with The U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, Energy Assist Foundation, and 7-Eleven.
“A futsal court is kind of a condensed version of a soccer field. You could basically take basketball goals out of a basketball court and drop down futsal, soccer goals,” McLaughlin said.
The installation will cost $500,000, which is being funded in multiple ways.
“It starts with the school district. They’re investing what they’re able to. We work with a lot of foundations. We have a lot of private donors. We have a lot of grants, a lot of businesses. We’ve had funding from outside the state that has come in, like the U.S. Soccer Foundation,” McLaughlin said.
Heavy rains this spring delayed some of the progress of the new athletic sites. But once it’s all completed, the goal is to get 50% of kids to participate in athletics.
“You need to have quality fields to attract participation and you’re going to get good results of more days in school and better grades and higher graduation rates for those kids that are participating,” McLaughlin said.
The projects are expected to be completed during the first semester of the school year.