From the Bench: Five-Figure Boost Set to be Provided for BHS Athletic Projects and Challenge Laid Down

By Jeff Toquinto on February 09, 2020 from Sports Blog via

Planned changes at Bridgeport High School’s Wayne Jamison Field complex are getting a nice financial boost. To make matters better, a project inside the school is also set to get a little bit of fiscal backing as well.
Thanks to the Bridgeport Track and Field and Cross Country Parents Association, a total of $15,000 is about to be presented to the school. And track and cross country coaching guru Jon Griffith is thrilled the funds are available to assist.
“We’re able to help our programs and help out projects needed by the school,” said Griffith. “This is good for everyone.”
As most of you already know, BHS Principal Matt DeMotto announced last June that a six-figure project to do a major overhaul of the press box at Wayne Jamison Field and the weight room facility attached to it was going to be tackled.
The estimated cost of the project? According to DeMotto, they’re looking at about $350,000 to do everything that’s desired.
The good news is the Harrison County Board of Education has agreed to contribute $150,000 to the project. Along with any monies already earmarked by the school, it’s a great start.
Now, they’re going to get a little bit more. And two other projects are going to get some funds that will help eliminate the need for funding from the school or other sources not as acute.  
“We’re going to donate $5,000 of the $15,000 to the press box and weight room project,” said Griffith. “We’re donating $5,000 to have the track repainted and then we’re donating the remaining $5,000 to the weight room inside the school next to the gym.”
Griffith said the $5,000 being presented to paint the track should cover the bulk of the costs associated for that project. He added that the other $5,000 will also be a big boost to the weight room inside BHS.
“I know our cross country kids use that weight room and the volleyball team and both basketball teams use it,” said Griffith.  “We want to renovate it, update the equipment, maybe replace the carpet and clean it up.”
If memory serves me correctly, the weight room isn’t new. However, it’s in much better shape than some may remember thanks to current BHS boys coach Dave Marshall who did a substantial upgrade project to it several years ago during his long run coaching the Tribe girls on the basketball court.
While the track team utilizes the weight room at Jamison Field, one may wonder if there any connections between the track team and the press box. Currently, the finish line building at Jamison Field handles the scoring, public address announcing and other needs.
Griffith, however, said there are plans involving track and the press box.
“Part of the project will integrate a network link from the finish line building to the press box to show live video of finishes and then results on the digital screen,” said Griffith. “That would be great for the spectators, it would allow us to sell advertising and it would just add to the experience. The revenue stream would allow the programs to continue to keep up and give back.”
Griffith isn’t just blowing smoke. The parent’s association recently spent $30,000 on pole vault and high jump mats.
About four years ago when the rubberized track was being redone, Griffith said the organization donated in excess of $25,000 for the finish line building and the resurfacing of the track.
None of this is even possible, however, without the decision to put the all-weather track in place after discussion on it first began in 1999. Track went from a sport requiring major financial assistance to a revenue producing sport that is among the leaders at BHS.
“The parents group runs our events and concession sales. We take in gate money, sponsorship money and the concessions. The gate money and sponsorship money go directly to the school, but our big money producer is concessions,” said Griffith. “It helps us keep the program healthy.”
The funds will now, at least partially, keep the kids healthy and in better shape. Griffith has become a proponent of weight training to various degrees to keep a competitive advantage.
“It is obvious football sees a significant amount of weight training, while some other sports don’t. You’re seeing it more with us; track lifts extensively,” Griffith said. “It aids in the athletic ability of kids and when you’re trying to be successful you need to be as fast, as strong and as explosive as possible because that’s the trend for all programs. This helps get us to where we want and need to be.”
Griffith won’t just be challenging his athletes to keep lifting and continue once the new facilities are complete. He’s got another challenge.
“We feel like we’ve put a big chunk of money up and we’re going to challenge other programs to step up and donate as well,” said Griffith. “It doesn’t need to be that much, which would be great, but for those utilizing these facilities it will make this process easier. Hopefully, other programs will accept the challenge.”
Editor's Note: Top photo is an aerial view of the Wayne Jamison Field Complex expected to see hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements this coming year. Second photo shows an architectural rendering of the refurbished press box, while Coach Jon Griffith and Coach  Emilee Yurish look over weight equipment inside the weight room inside of BHS. Bottom photo shows Travis Jones pointing to some of the damage inside the existing press box facility. Aerial photo by Ben Queen of Ben Queen Photography.

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