Lions bolster dreams of new field

Medway athletes such as Benton McNicol and Lauren Kennedy will benefit from planned improvements to the playing field at the Middlesex Centre high school. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)

A brand-new field.

A state-of-the-art field house and track.

A high-tech scoreboard keeping track of touchdowns as teenagers play football games under the bright after-school lights.

Communities whose students attend Medway high school could be forgiven for dreaming big after the Ilderton and District Lions Club has pledged to improve the existing field at the school — with more enhancements to come, depending on how much money is raised.

The Lions are hoping to raise about $600,000 for a new field and track for Medway, which serves kids from Lucan, Delaware, Arva and Ilderton.

“The field now is well-worn, the track is cinder, so you can’t hold any significant competitions on it. With a renewed facility, we could draw in more people to Medway,” said Jim Copeland, principal of the high school which has about 1,100 students.

The school is located in Arva.

“We’ve had some major improvements to the building because it was totally gutted, but outside it’s the same footprint that’s been here for many, many years,” Copeland said.

The Lions service club will raise money for field improvements first and will put in a track if there’s enough money for it, said Al Edmondson, mayor of Middlesex Centre — where the school is located — and also a Lion himself.

“The money won’t be an issue. (The Lions) have more than half of it all ready to go,” he said. “This is certainly a positive thing for the community and all the communities around here.”

The Lions have about $355,000 pledged in fundraising already.

The club has to follow the school board’s fundraising guidelines and procedures.

The field improvements are the first part of the project which, if all goes according to plan, will begin building in a year.

Fundraising for Phase 2, which will include the construction of a field house and Phase 3, the installation of a scoreboard and lights, are years away.

Still, people are excited.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Lions. It truly is a project that will benefit the community,” Copeland said.

“The outdoor facilities are used by classes for programming, but also accessed and rented by the community. This helps us out because we can give better programs and it helps the community out because they can rent out a better facility.”

The field and track are rented out during the year and in the summer.

“You have to be careful with expectations,” said Copeland, who cautioned about getting ahead of the money raised.

“Once they raise the money, then we will talk about how to proceed from there, and if they go further, that has to go back

to the (Thames Valley District school board).

“The relationship between the Lions and the board has developed into a partnership. I hope it meets everyone’s expectations.”

via London Free Press | Service club and Thames Valley school board have created a partnership to help Middlesex Centre kids