Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bill and Frances Henry and Our Field of Dreams

The timber cutting crews have arrived and begun to clear the land as a first step in the construction of the new baseball field in the back of campus. In case you missed the Gazette and GDS E-News articles, Bill and Frances Henry have made an extraordinarily generous commitment necessary to build a new baseball field. Until now, the GDS baseball team has been practicing in Steele Creek--a long way from Gaston Day. By next year, the GDS baseball team will be playing on campus in a beautiful new athletic facility. 

Gaston Day can never thank Bill and Frances enough for their generosity. This is the third time that they have been involved in an ultimate gift to the school. First, they joined with other family members to pay for the construction of the James H. Henry Activity Center to honor the memory of their brother Jim. Next when we had the Campaign for Academic Excellence in the early 2000s, Bill and Frances gave a gift to renovate the main academic building, which was renamed the William S. Henry Family Academic Building in their honor. Now, they are making it possible to build the new baseball field. Because Frances Henry has meant so much to the baseball program, it is so fitting that she be a part of making the field a reality. She coached the baseball program into existence and remains its biggest volunteer and fan. Frances loves baseball, and she loves Gaston Day. The new baseball field grows out of those twin loves. Son William is a first baseman on our team.

The baseball field is part of a larger athletic complex that has been planned for the back of campus for more than fifteen years. Back then, the school purchased 25 acres from the Gastonia Municipal Airport and developed the master plan for a major athletic complex to be placed there. We have been waiting all these years to secure the funds to begin. Now we can. Other parts of the plan call for a new soccer field and track, a softball field, concession stand, and tennis courts. Some of these facilities are not as great a priority as they once were. Our partnership with Southampton Swim and Racket Club, for example, provides great tennis facilities close to school. And we won't need a girls softball field until there is enough interest in that sport to form a team. But oh how we would love to have a new soccer field and track!! Both of those sports are strong at Gaston Day. Benefactors are welcome!!

How exciting!! The baseball field is the first new construction on this campus since I have been here. It is going to be such a beautiful addition to our campus. The schedule is for the field to be completed by the end of this summer. The GDS baseball team should be playing on it the spring 2016. I can't wait for the first pitch!! Baseball is a growing sport at Gaston Day, and the new field only adds to the program's momentum. Who will get the first hit? Who will pitch the first victory? Who will hit the first home run? In a year, we will witness the answers to those questions. 

"Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks! I don't care if we ever come back. For it's root, root, root for the Spartans! It's a shame if they lose! For it's one, two, three strikes your out at our new ball field!" 

What a great time to be a Spartan baseball fan!! Thank you, Henrys for making our field of dreams come to life!