It was no April Fools joke when Kristen Jones, athletic director at Uplift Heights Secondary announced to the school on April 1, they had won $25,000 to fix their field.
Uplift Heights Secondary entered the The Bounce Back 2016 Eastbay contest, the contest awards $25,000 for a school’s sports facility upgrade. Last year the school entered the same contest and made it into the finals but did not win.
Jones began preparing for the 2016 contest with research, interviewing scholars and coaches to make an exceptional video to demonstrate their need. Jones and the coaches made posters in preparation for the contest. When the application went live Uplift Heights staff went into action promoting the link and voting as much as possible.
Eastbay emailed Jones notifying her Uplift Heights had been selected as the winner. Jones was sitting in her dance class and ran down the hall to tell the dean and director.
The front office broke into cheer Jones said, but she waited to tell scholars until Eastbay made the official announcement and received final documents of the win.
“To be able to have football games here to be able to have soccer games for the first time in school history is going to be huge,” said Jones.
The athletic director began googling for scholarships and grants to fix their field last year. The field becomes unusable during heavy rain and can be dangerous due to the unevenness of the field. Uplift Heights’ coaches have had to cancel practices due to the field conditions.
“We knew it had to be fixed and we weren’t going to stop until it was,” said Jones.
The athletic department began looking at alternatives to pay to fix the field in case they did not win. The $25,000 will now enable Uplift Heights to pay for the field to be leveled and drainage to be added. During down pours the water will be able drain into the Trinity instead of forming into a retention pond.
“We weren’t able to play to our full potential at games and now I’m excited to play next year,” said Marki Villarreal, 10th grader.
Even with such obstacles, Uplift Heights athletic teams have flourished. The flag football team is back to back state champions. The soccer team is aiming to also be back to back state champions the team won state last year.
The win is not only for scholars but for parents too. Many of the games take place in Plano, Balch Springs or Grand Prairie, making it difficult for parents to attend due to the distance.
Villarreal has been playing soccer and football throughout his time at Uplift Heights Secondary. He began at Uplift Heights as a 6th grader and due to the distance of his games friends and family have been unable to attend. Villarreal is now excited to have his parents, family and friends attend his games next year and see how much he has improved.
“I know we’ll have way more school spirit and many more people will come to our game and I think that’s one of the biggest things,” said Villarreal, “because as soon as you see all those fans cheer for you its a positive thing and it makes the team have more spirit.”
The school will also work to get a scoreboard, track and turf for the field.
“It really is a blessing because not many other schools have this opportunity,” said Villarreal, “Thank you to everyone thats participating in this funding its going to really more spiriting and positive things to Uplift Heights Preparatory,”
The 10th grader does not live far from the school and said he will be checking on the progress of the field throughout the summer.
The school plans to continue to raise fund for anything the $25,000 does not cover. On April 23 from 8 a.m. until all items are sold the school will have an Uplift Heights wide garage sale to raise funds for their athletic awards banquet and the field.
Work on the field is expected to begin in May and anticipated to be completed in time for preseason for flag football.