This past season, Trinity High School shared the Triton College softball field and used it as their home field. It was not just a matter of careful scheduling of games; it was a community college and a local high school joining together with the goal to create a first class softball field for their athletes.
Coaches Art Kasak of Triton and Bob Osborne of Trinity have worked hard at improving the field.
"If you had seen the field last year you would wonder how you could ever play on that field," said Kasak. "We spent a lot of hours making the field look as good as it did for the regional games that Trinity hosted this year."
One of the first improvements to the field happened this past March before the season started. Trinity had a new fence installed that clearly defines the outfield. Although both schools had talked about the need for a fence and the hope to get it done this year, the Triton team was away in Florida when it happened.
"It was a great surprise for us when we got back from our trip," said Kasak. "We now saw a softball field, and not just a field where girls play."
Although the Triton field has been used regularly, it hasn't received this much hands-on attention in six or seven years.
"Art and I have put in a lot of time into maintaining and taking care of the field, from dragging it, working on it, and digging up the bases," said Osborne. "It's all those little things that had been neglected."
Both coaches feel the field's improvement has been a big boost for their programs. Triton's record improved from 18-24 last year to 32-24 this year. Trinity's record improved as well, and they won their first ever regional championship.
"I think it's showing where both programs are going. Like us, Triton is trying to build up a program. To get good teams, and to get good players, you need good facilities," said Osborne.
Kasak talked about some of the challenges of coaching at a two-year community college. "The hard thing is that the turnover is very quick. I hope that they stay with me for two years, but a lot of kids might stay only one. I have to go and recruit hard every year," he said.
The coaches also said the recent development of a professional women's softball league has helped draw interest to the sport at both the college and high school levels.
"The whole junior varsity team went to [a] game with their coaches. It's a higher stage for them in athletics. It gives the younger athletes role models to look up to," said Osborne.
"The kids know that there's a pro softball team in the area and that there is the possibility of playing after college. It gives them a great outlook," added Kasak.
Improvements to the field at Triton will continue, according to both coaches. They want to add a scoreboard and redo the dugouts.
"We're trying to bring in all of our expertise. There's more to be done, but it was a great start," said Kasak.
Osborne echoed that sentiment, "It's not going to happen overnight. This is hopefully a relationship that will go on for many years. We both care a lot about our programs and our field."