“If you build, they will come.” These are the words Andover Baseball Coach Dan Grams says when asked why the team pushed to renovate the varsity baseball field. In hopes of increasing support and making baseball a more important sport at the high school, Grams hopes these new facilities will bring about a greater sense of respect for the program. The baseball team works just as hard as the other AHS sports, but is often overlooked and not regarded as highly, as evident through its lack of financial support.
After winning the Division 1 North title last year for the first time since 2005, Grams feels his team should be rewarded for their great accomplishment. Since his arrival, Grams has worked to improve the baseball facilities each year. For the upcoming 2015 season, Grams plans to revamp the entire field with a plan to tear out the dugouts and backstop, and redo them in brick. With a new announcing booth also projected to be added, the field aims to become the modernized arena that AHS baseball desperately needs to succeed. By creating a more professional atmosphere, the team should hopefully receive the higher regard they rightfully deserve.
None of this would have been possible without the immense support from the alumni that still give back to the program. The renovations are being paid for in whole by Glenn Verrette, a member of the class of 1999. As an ode to long-time alum Rick Harrison, Verrette thoughtfully dedicated the press box to Harrison.
The original budget of the project was about $100,000, with the intentions of only redoing the backstop. But Mr. Verrette took over the fundraiser, and the money raised skyrocketed. The recent unfortunate death of Dick Aumais – after whom the varsity baseball field is named after – also compelled alumni who had close ties with him to donate in his honor. Without their help, the team would’ve faced extreme difficulty coming up with such a large sum of money. Such dedicated alumni have been the absolute life savers for this program, and the baseball team is very grateful.
The team’s efforts to best represent their town have finally received a pay off. Lots of players feel like this spring is going to be their “Christmas morning”. With all new equipment and the new additions to the field, the boys feel this was a great investment for the AHS Baseball program. Junior Matt Faulkner said, “The dugouts were falling apart and the backstop was too far back. It’ll be a nice change to have a nice, new updated field to play on.”
Though Grams was unsure of the exact amount of money raised, he is “very thankful to those who have donated. He added, “[The alumni] have helped us get this field to a whole other level.” Grams wishes that there was a way for him to reach out and say thank you to everyone who donated to help out the baseball team. His gratitude is equally reflected by the members of his team, as the boys have worked tirelessly to create a more dignified program. Captain Reid Bryant, wishing to recognize the students and faculty of AHS who have been so supportive of the team, said “We as a program just want to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who has been involved with us in years past or are just hopping on as fans.”
Personally, I think the Andover Boosters made a great decision by asking Mr. Verrette to hold the fundraiser. He is a very well-respected community member in Andover, and it’s amazing how he’s always trying to give back to the town through sports. By providing a donation that covered the majority of the turf field renovations, Verette has given more than his share back to AHS. This man deserves all the credit for the newer aspects of this town’s sports complex, and the vast improvements he has funded for all Andover sports. Verrette has done so much to bring the life back to Andover baseball, and this great community. We all call it home so we should all take pride in it. At the end of the day, the baseball team plays for “ 1 Town, 3 teams, 58 hearts.”
By Sean Kucharski