Five years ago the Steilacoom High School baseball field was a disaster and the team itself had lots of problems ranging from not enough players to tattered uniforms and, of course, no funds to improve anything.
That’s when Eric Garrett became head coach. With his wife, Evergreen Home Loans, Mortgage banker Jaimie Garrett, they set a course to get the field in shape, recruit more players and win some ball games.
The Steilacoom School District was providing a $900 budget for the team and the Garretts spent additional funds out of their own pocket to buy balls and keep the program afloat those first two or three years.
With just enough players for a varsity team, they’re win and loss record was dismal. Eric set about convincing more boys to join the team, explaining that a new field was coming and with them joining it would become a respectable ball team. He got a slightly better budget from the school district and finally obtained new uniforms for the players.
While Eric worked on the students, Jaimie (a community activist who was named 2001 Steilacoom Citizen of the Year) set about getting help rebuilding the field. It was the worst in the league. There were no dugouts, the backstop was rusted and on the verge of falling down and the infield was full of rocks and the wrong kind of dirt. The school district agreed that the backstop was a hazard so most games were played on the opponents’ fields.
Fast forward to 2004!
Eric was able to get some dirt put on the field. Then he and Jaimie put together a plan to build a new field to include dugouts, storage shed and scoreboard.
The district came up with a $9,000 budget to replace just the backstop. (The Garrett plan was close to $70,000 for the entire project.) Eric and Jaimie thought if they worked hard enough they could do better than just another chain-link backstop. Jaimie spent the next year out in the community asking for help.
What resulted for the start of construction over the 2005 holiday break follows:
- Basalite¬? DuPont Plant donated enough concrete blocks to build both dugouts and shed
- Potelco Utilities provided half a dozen 40-foot utility poles and equipment to install them
- Puget Sound Energy had six employees that volunteered their time to install the poles
- Holroyd donated one yard of concrete for every yard purchased
- Mark Stephens, president of Stetz Construction provided the lumber and roofing materials at cost, and provided a crew to build up the dugouts after the masonry work was complete
- The Town of Steilacoom provided the labor and cherry picker to install the netting 36 feet high around the entire dugout and backstop and waived the permit fee;
- Mark and Paul Tinsley spent countless hours working and volunteering to get everything done in three months, allowing the team to start the season on the new field. Mark roofed, then painted the exterior of the dugouts with his dad, his son Jonathan, Jonathan’s fianc?©’ Molly Kincaid! Eric and Jaimie painted the interiors and benches with the help of three players, Shane Garrett, Fabian Espinosa and Daniel Byrne.
To finance the project, the Garretts used the approximately $10,000 from the school district and $2,000 from a memorial fund donated by friends and family of Rudy Cribb, Jaimie’ stepfather who died of cancer in March of 2005.
On May 1, a dedication of the field will take place and honors will be paid to Cribb for willing funds provided in lieu of flowers to go toward building the field.
In addition to the donated materials, the $12,000 was spent for netting, backstop, rebar, paint, signage and lumber. When the fund came up nearly $3,000 short, the Garretts provided the money so their son Shane (Zack graduated last year) and his teammates would have a decent field on which they could play.
And the results of all the efforts have paid off.
Last year, the team won its first 2A District championship but lost the first round of the state playoffs. With only three pitchers and a total of 16 players, the loss was no big surprise.
Things are looking much better this year. The team is currently 11- 2 and in second place in the Nisqually league. Sequim, a 3A school, is in first. This year the team has only two starting pitchers but an outstanding defense and a tough group of hitters.
After the ribbon cutting Monday, May 1, at 3:45 pm the team will play Port Townsend and the season’s final regular will be at Vashon, Wednesday, May 3rd.
What’s left to do at the ballfield?
Jaimie says a scoreboard is needed and she has her eye on one for $6,000. With the limited electrical service at the field, it is about the only one that will work, she explained. If you are interested in helping get this scoreboard, contact Garrett via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or call her at 253-589-8865.
Photos by Jaimie Garrett
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