North Scott High School practice facility benefits athletes, community members
New cost-effective practice facility at North Scott High School serves multiple sports, reduces scheduling conflicts, offers more equipment storage
When the weather turned sour, the North Scott High School Lancers boys baseball team would take batting practice in an off-campus building known affectionately as the “Silver Bullet.” With its two batting cages, the old farming structure was too old and too small to meet the team’s growing needs. But that wasn’t the worst of the team’s problems when it came to indoor practice: the district was told it had to tear down the Silver Bullet due to a city-mandated road expansion.
Thanks to a supportive community and dedicated fundraising group, the Lancers now have a new indoor practice facility that triples the size of the Silver Bullet. Not only does the building offer four large batting cages (divisible into eight smaller cages), but it also brings the girls softball team a full-sized infield, which other teams can use as well. Additionally, the 13,000-square-foot facility brings much-needed equipment storage space.
“When people walk in this building, they’re impressed that a high school has a practice facility of this quality.” – Joe Stutting, North Scott Community School District Superintendent
North Scott Community School District Superintendent Joe Stutting said that the district will also open the facility to youth sports programs. “As soon as kids start swinging bats, they’ll be in this facility,” he said. “It’s a community building.”
During planning, district representatives and members of the Legat Architects team explored indoor batting facilities in the region. The resulting building, one of the only high school facilities of its kind in Iowa, is located next to the ballfields and the district office.
Lancer Legacy: Not Just Batting Cages
While the boys baseball team practiced in the Silver Bullet, other Lancer teams had to negotiate for gym time during inclement weather. This led to scheduling headaches that impacted both sports and physical education programs.
For several years, a group of community members called Lancer Legacy has been raising money to help pay for facility improvements such as the auditorium remodeling (completed 2018) and the new Lancer Athletic Building (completed 2017). After learning more about the district’s struggles with indoor practice space, the organization raised $250,000 to contribute toward the new practice facility. According to Stutting, the additional funding enabled the facility to expand its function beyond batting cages.
“Calling it an indoor batting facility sells it short,” said Stutting. “It also provides indoor practice space for our softball, soccer, football, and golf teams.”
A divider net separates the cages from the softball field. Legat’s Ben Elmer said, “Teams could have batting practice and soft toss on one side, while on the other side, there could be anything from fielding grounders or running bases to soccer drills or hitting golf balls into the net.”
When the cage netting is drawn, the 60-foot distance (girls softball regulation) between home plate and third base can be extended to 90 feet (boys baseball regulation). The space is also large enough to host banquets or receptions.
More Storage Means More Efficiency
Like many of its contemporaries, North Scott High School has long faced the challenge of finding athletic storage space— equipment was intermixed and spread out between buildings. Teams often resorted to stuffing gear into nooks and crannies, which led to inefficiencies and difficulty locating items.
The new practice facility provides much more storage space, plus it offers separate rooms dedicated to individual sports (e.g., baseball, softball, soccer, tennis). The result is improved organization and a centralized storage location.
Stutting said, “Now these athletes can find what they’re looking for right away—they don’t have to go digging around the high school across the street.”
Keeping Costs Down: Beauty on the Inside
For a facility of this type, the district realized that size and functionality far outweighed exterior beauty. In response, Legat specified a pre-engineered wood structural system and sheet metal liner panels to speed up construction and reduce costs.
Stutting said, “When people walk in this building, they’re impressed that a high school has a practice facility of this quality . . . especially when they learn that neighboring districts have spent more money on buildings half as large as this one.”
He added that the facility has garnered the praise of coaches, athletes, and alumni athletes, while several schools within the region have asked to see it.
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