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Schwab: Batavia hoping to enjoy great outdoors

Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013 5:33 a.m. CDT

Batavia has drastically upgraded its indoor setup for athletics within the past few years as the school debuted a new fieldhouse and weight-training facilities.

Now, the question is how long will it take for the school’s outdoor sports facilities to catch up.

A cramped football stadium, a track surface that is in “poor shape,” according to director of buildings and grounds Pat Browne, baseball and softball fields that sorely need to be spruced up and a lack of on-campus space to conduct practices for some sports are among the facility shortcomings the school would like to address.

Funding has not yet been identified for any of the plans which, obviously, curtails any attempts to attach concrete timetables to the school’s wish list. But at least there is a plan.

On Tuesday, the Batavia school board heard a presentation for about $13.4 million worth of proposed outdoor athletics facilities upgrades, with a new football stadium and new multiuse synthetic field the highest-priced items, both projected to cost more than $4 million.

Among the other proposed improvements are upgraded baseball and softball fields (can we do something about foul balls from the baseball field showering down upon softball spectators?), lights for the tennis courts, expanded parking and additional storage space.

The football stadium calls for 2,500 bleacher seats along with the requisite features such as lighting, a scoreboard and a press box. Adding seating for Batavia football games would be a welcome development. Bulldog Stadium as currently configured is no place to be claustrophobic – or unable to make it to the game an hour and a half early.

A proposed eight-lane track around the field would also allow Batavia to more successfully operate larger track and field meets.

Batavia athletic director Dave Andrews said it is important to have a comprehensive plan for the future so that the school would “be able to pull out bits and pieces and do them, so it fits in the long-term plan.”

It will be fascinating to watch how this plan unfolds. It might seem unrealistic for all of it to come together any time soon, but even completing half of the suggested upgrades could have a transformative effect on the experiences of Bulldogs athletes and their supporters.

Head-scratching: What to make of the Wheaton Academy boys basketball team’s first-round ouster Tuesday against Aurora Central Catholic?

With all due respect to ACC’s penchant for postseason magic, it’s difficult to avoid putting the result in the context of the Warriors’ snakebitten postseason history.

In 2010, Wheaton Academy was 24-2 entering a regional semifinal against a .500 St. Francis team, which proceeded to stun the Warriors, 48-45, on Wheaton Academy’s home floor.

The Warriors won a regional title in 2011 before ending their season at 27-2 with a sectional semifinal loss against Crane. Last season, the upset bug bit once again in the form of rival St. Francis, which upended the Warriors in a regional semifinal.

Then Anthony Andujar and ACC struck Tuesday, as Andujar’s 3-pointer in the final seconds relegated the Warriors to a postseason one-and-done for the third time in four years.

That wouldn’t be so remarkable if Wheaton Academy hadn’t been so dynamite outside of the playoffs.

This year’s Suburban Christian Conference Gold title marked the Warriors’ fourth straight conference championship.

Coach Paul Ferguson is obviously a quality coach or the Warriors wouldn’t have been able to sustain championship-level success over a prolonged period.

But what happens to the Warriors once the calendar hits late February/early March remains one of the most puzzling mysteries on the area hoops scene.

Down goes Montini: The Montini girls basketball team’s bid for a fourth straight IHSA Class 3A state championship came to a close with a 48-45, overtime loss to Vernon Hills on Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal.

The local takeaway: Burlington Central’s season was even more impressive than we knew. The underclassmen-driven Rockets were tied at 31 with Vernon Hills with 3:40 left in Monday’s Hoffman Estates Supersectional.

Provided there are no major injuries or defections in the offing, Burlington Central girls basketball has the makings of an extraordinary program in the coming years.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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