Clover Hill District Supervisor Chris Winslow serves as honorary starter for a one-lap fun run.
About four years ago, Steve Alexander with the Chesterfield Quarterback League contacted Clover Hill District Supervisor Chris Winslow and inquired about the possibility of having lights installed on the athletic field at Swift Creek Middle School.
During their conversation, Alexander spoke of “having to bring his own lights” so the Swift Creek Athletic Association’s youth football teams could conduct practices as daylight grew shorter into the fall months.
Then last year, Rob McCurry, the Midlothian District’s representative on Chesterfield’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC), mentioned to Winslow that Swift Creek Middle’s track and field team could not host meets because its facility didn’t meet minimum standards.
After walking the site with the school’s principal, Dr. Edward Maynes, and staff from Parks and Recreation and Chesterfield County Public Schools, Winslow quickly concluded that significant improvements were needed.
“This field was a mess: gophers running around, it looked crazy -- think ‘Caddyshack’ on steroids,” he recalled Tuesday night, during a ceremony formally dedicating Swift Creek Middle’s refurbished athletic complex.
The $535,000 project included resurfacing the school’s ¼-mile track and jump pit runway, regrading and alleviating drainage issues, replacing irrigation heads and planting a new Bermuda grass playing surface on the rectangular field, as well as installation of state-of-the-art LED lighting.
Work was performed by a contractor hired by Parks and Recreation, and paid for with a combination of District Enhancement Capital Improvement Funds and allocations from both Parks and Recreation’s and Chesterfield County Public Schools’ capital improvement programs (CIP).
County, schools and community leaders participate in a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
“This complex is now the perfect place to train and compete, and I am delighted for our kids,” Winslow said. “The Board of Supervisors understands that just as students are learning to exchange a baton or high jump, they also are learning valuable life lessons like teamwork, setting goals and pushing themselves to be their very best.”
The facility enhancements were completed in time for Swift Creek Middle to host three track-and-field competitions this spring.
“It was wonderful to see our students, parents and the community really get to enjoy this beautiful space,” Maynes said. “We’re excited to have our soccer team come back to its main field this fall and we’re excited to work with our association to have the kids enjoy this complex.”
McCurry, who is also the parent of a Swift Creek Middle student, thanked Winslow for being responsive to the community’s needs and the team of county and school staff whose collaboration brought the project to fruition.
“I’ve spent my life volunteering with children and there is nothing that brings me more joy than seeing a smile on a kid’s face,” he said.
As adults took turns speaking during Tuesday’s ceremony, groups of children tossed the football and played soccer nearby on the lush, green athletic field. Following a ribbon cutting, they participated in a one-lap fun run around the track and enjoyed some ice cream.
“The biggest thing is seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces,” added Michael Vaughan, the Chesterfield Quarterback League’s Northern Division commissioner and a former longtime coach for the Swift Creek Athletic Assocation. “I can’t wait to see the first football game in the fall when they’re going to play right here under the lights.”
Neil Luther, director of Chesterfield Parks and Recreation, introduces a speaker at Tuesday's dedication.