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JPII athletes get new facilities: School dedicates $7.5 million athletic complex
Kelsey Kruzich / Staff Photo: Students at John Paul II High School show their school spirit at the dedication ceremony for the school's East Athletic Complex.
The dedication of John Paul II High School's East Sports Complex had a little bit of everything. From skydivers to a barbershop quartet, the 8-year-old school went all out showing off its newest facilities Wednesday.
The new complex, which includes eight tennis courts as well as softball and baseball fields, should help bring the school's athletic programs closer together, said head baseball coach Brian Gaffney.
"We always struggle with building community in the baseball program," Gaffney said, adding that his team played at Collin College prior to last season, when it played at a city park. "Now, with this facility that also houses two other sports, we get an opportunity to build a student community among our baseball, tennis and softball programs."
School President Thomas Poore also spoke about the community among the John Paul family, saying that all construction projects are planned with community in mind.
He attributed part of the school's growth from 301 students in its first year to 671 this year to the athletic facilities and their ability to bring the school and its supporters together.
Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas said John Paul II High School is an example of what can be done with people come together, and that the school is something the city and community can be proud of.
"I can certainly remind you all that not many years ago ... not too many people had a lot of faith in John Paul II High School," Farrell said. "I know that because of the leadership of many people and many families ... that this community has come together to make this a wonderful school for the future generations of our community."
The new $7.5 million athletic facility was built largely because of an initial donation from Mary and Rich Templeton, who also played a large role in the opening of the school's football/track/soccer complex. Poore said the family has been a supporter of the school for many years, and their continued donations will enable to school to reach its goals.
The ceremony concluded with Mary and Rich, as well as their daughter Stephanie, throwing out the first baseball and softball pitches, as well as hitting the ceremonial first serve. However, prior to that occurring, the balls used were specially delivered by skydivers who landed in center field.
After the ceremony, Gaffney said he was blown away by the finished project, and credited Mary's attention to detail in ensuring the field was top notch.
"The field was beyond what I expected," he said. "I had seen the drawings ... but once you see it all come together it is hard to describe. It is beyond my wildest dreams."