LAST YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EXCITING SPRING FOR GOOSE CREEK CISD BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL TEAMS ALIKE.
Not just because of the prospects of the 2020 season but also because they were about to embark on their first full season of playing on their brand-new, all turf fields at each high school.
Now in 2021, the players and coaches are getting the full luxury of playing on an all-turf field every single day.
"This facility is amazing," Goose Creek Memorial baseball coach Brian Williams said. "The kids are excited about having this since they didn't get to play on it much last year. Don't have to worry about rainouts anymore and it is a beautiful field. I appreciate Athletic Director Lee Martinez and former Athletic Director Bernie Mulvaney for allowing us to do this. This has been a long time coming."
It was an initiative by previous Athletic Director Dr. Bernie Mulvaney that got the ball rolling on this project.
"He definitely had a vision of athletics and that was one of them," GCCISD Athletic Director Lee Martinez, who was the assistant athletic director at the time, said. "He definitely made that happen here. I was very proud to be a part of that."
Utilizing athletic department funds with support from Goose Creek CISD, they were able to fund six fully turfed fields for their three high schools. The turf also was part of an energy conservation project through the district's partnership with ABM.
"It's an advantage to us because we get to cut the number of games that are rained out," Martinez said. "We're anticipating playing deep into the playoffs and it serves as an advantage there as well … Also, our camps don't get canceled, we also have people in the community that love to use them. We've also had some college games there as well. It gives our kids notoriety throughout the Greater Houston area and the state of Texas."
Seeing these upgrades is also special for GCCISD alumni.
That group includes Goose Creek Memorial softball coach Rachel Smith, who grew up in GCCISD and played her high school softball at Ross Sterling High.
"We are very blessed to have turf," she said. "A lot of teams are going to turf because our weather is so unpredictable around here. I grew up in GCCISD and we played on dirt and had to wait out those rainy games. So, it's definitely a blessing to have."
Having all-turf fields also cuts down the amount of time and maintenance that goes into taking care of and preparing a field for a game.
For Martinez, who was a long-time baseball coach in the Houston area before moving into administration, he believes this also could prolong some coaches' careers.
"If I had a turf field it definitely would have made my career a lot longer," Martinez said. "You don't have to worry about putting clay, dragging the field, watering the field, or putting the tarp on there, it definitely takes away the labor that goes into being a baseball coach. I think we're helping these coaches out in a lot of ways besides not getting our games canceled."
At the end of the day, it ends up being about pride, and opposing teams that come play in Baytown take notice.
"We get several compliments from visiting coaches about our fields," Williams said.
Martinez added: "It definitely adds pride for your community. When people come play it shows that [GCCISD] has first-class facilities."
The next major project Martinez said they are looking at tackling in the coming years is a new fieldhouse at Stallworth Stadium.
BEFORE THE FIRST SNAP OF THE 2020 SEASON, BAYTOWN LEE COACH TIM FINN CHALLENGED HIS TEAM. HE WANTED THEM TO BE ABLE TO ADD ANOTHER PLAYOFF SEASON TO THEIR WALL INSIDE THE FIELDHOUSE.
Well, get the paint out. Baytown Lee finished second in District 9-5A-DI with a 7-3 overall record and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Ganders fell in the first round of the playoffs to Katy Paetow. Baytown Lee was led by District 9-5A-DI Offensive MVP Keke Davis at running back and Newcomer of the Year JaCorey Boston.
"It was a three-year process," Finn said. "Knocking on the door three years in a row and we finally got it done. We had sophomores through seniors who made big contributions for us to get that done. That's a step we needed to take with this group.
"I'm just really thrilled that we got it done."
Goose Creek Memorial was the other Goose Creek CISD program to make the big dance, going 6-4 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and the first time under coach Shannon Carter.
Baytown Sterling finished the year going 2-7 overall with wins over Brazoswood and Galveston Ball.
OFFENSE –FIRST TEAM
Christian Olige, QB – Baytown Lee
Mason Russell, FB – GCM
Jakeydric Smith, RB – GCM
Peter Semien, WR – GCM
Adrian Boston, WR – Baytown Lee
Trudell Berry, WR – Baytown Lee
Alfredo Nieto, C – Baytown Lee
Omar Nieto, G – Baytown Lee
Ricardo Ramirez, T – Baytown Lee
Bryce Johnston, P – GCM
DEFENSE – FIRST TEAM
Noah Lister, DT/N – Baytown Sterling
Tyler Tolliver, DT/N – GCM
Richard Sylvester, S – Baytown Sterling
Bryce Johnston, ILB – GCM
Omar Huntington, ILB – Baytown Sterling
Richie Rodney, DE – GCM
Brice Lane, OLB – GCM
Adrian Boston, CB – Baytown Lee