The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 29, 2013

Batting cages are a gift of love

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

LAHOMA, Okla. —  New batting cages being put to enthusiastic use by Cimarron Public Schools students, are a gift of love from community supporters.

In the last three weeks, parents, grandparents, donors, high school baseball players and other students came to the round top building south of the school and converted it from a dirt-floored storage area, to a place for the softball and baseball teams to hone their batting skills.

They poured a concrete floor, laid artificial turf and installed two batting cages and dividers. They also installed four screens, five new batting tees and a pitching mound.

“It’s going to be a multi-sport facility,” said Trevor Maxwell, head baseball coach at Cimarron.

On Thursday afternoon, the 12 members of the high school girls softball team practiced batting in the facility, under the watchful eye of head softball coach Paul Martin.

Jon Kuhnemund, assistant high school baseball coach, said he’s thankful to have the batting cages.

“We needed somewhere when the weather’s bad and this winter,” Kuhnemund said. “This winter, we’ll be in here every day.”

Between the baseball and softball team members at the high school and junior high, 44 students will benefit from the batting cages. Kuhnemund, also the elementary physical education teacher, said the batting cages might, on occasion, be used by elementary students, but middle school and high schoolers will make the most use of the new facility.

Martin said community members raised about $14,000 in cash and materials, then donated the labor to build the batting cages.

Martin said the coaches hope to be able to get the round-top insulated, and install a heater to keep students comfortable during the cold months. They also would like to put a walk-through door on the side of the building.

Steve Walker, superintendent at Cimarron, said Maxwell, in his first year with the district, helped inspire parents and community members to work together with the school district on the project. But it’s not the school who got the gift — it’s the students, Walker said.

“I’ve got kids coming in at 7, 7:30 in the morning and using the cages,” Walker said. “In this heat, I don’t blame them for coming early.”