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MERCERSBURG >> The vote is unanimous.

"It is fantastic." — James Buchanan girls soccer coach Terry Appleby.

"It's gorgeous." — Rocket boys soccer coach Randy Jarrett.

"It's a gem." — JB athletic director Larry Strawoet.

What they're talking about is the new soccer stadium that has been meticulously constructed for the last year plus and will make its debut Sept. 8 when the Rocket girls host Shippensburg at 7 p.m.

For years, JB soccer games have been played in the football stadium. This move will give the soccer teams their own field and take some traffic off of the stadium turf.

"Our vision was to build a facility that our kids would be proud of," Strawoet said.

Jarrett said, "I think the kids are excited to play on it. We've taken the boys on runs beside it and they've been looking at it closely. The other day somebody asked where the speakers were going to be."

Strawoet said, "We started work on it last summer and we gave it a full year for the grass to grow, and it's plush. We put the lights in the end of this spring, and the bleachers and walkways went up about two weeks ago. The field is ready; we just have some finishing touches to do yet."

Appleby said, "I'll have to give them credit – they did a fantastic job on the field. The grass has had a while to grow in and it's sweet."

The project was a collaboration between the Tuscarora school board, the JB Booster Club and the Fix JB Sports group that has been instrumental in bringing the Rockets' athletic facilities up to a quality standard. It was also the final project on the list of things to accomplish for the groups.

"For me as the AD, I'm proud of what Fix JB Sports and the school have been able to do," Strawoet said. "The partnership has been powerful for the community. A lot of people have stepped up and helped out to produce some great facilities that the kids will enjoy. If we have some money left over, we'll put it into an endowment so we can make sure that things don't get to the point they were with the facilities before we started all of this."

For the soccer project, Rockwell Construction took the lead. Chuck Jones of Quality Turf put down the grass and others who contributed included Musco Lighting, Widder and Associates and the JB maintenance staff.

The field, which is irrigated, will measure at least 75 by 110 feet, which is much wider and longer than what JB's teams have been used to playing on.

"We hope to get used to it, and make it work to our advantage," Jarrett said. "Defenses aren't used to covering that level of width. And other than Shippensburg and sometimes Boiling Springs, we'll be the only team in the division playing on grass."

The bleachers will hold up to 600 fans, a soccer specific scoreboard will be used, there will be a storage building with a press area above it between the teams' benches, and a utility building nearby will get some use by the teams.

Appleby said, "We can probably use that building for a meeting room or maybe to get out of the weather if we need to."

Strawoet said the field will be reserved for games. There is a half field available for practice in front of the school and a full practice field was built behind the high school.

FIX JB SPORTS

The Tuscarora school board, and the James Buchanan Booster Club, which includes the Fix JB Sports group, have completed their list of projects to upgrade the JB sports facilities. Here is a list of projects that were achieved by the groups:

• Upgrade pool and locker room

• Install all-weather track

• Renovate tennis courts

• Construct soccer stadium

• Install bleachers in the gym

• Put in practice soccer field

• Install irrigation for soccer, baseball and football fields

• Put up new scoreboards in gym and at football and soccer stadiums

• Purchase indoor batting cages for baseball and softball

• Install spotlight for wrestling matches

• Construct concession stand and bathrooms at stadium

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