Gibault Catholic High School, of Waterloo, looked to public and private schools in Belleville and Columbia and saw at each a field of green missing from Gibault.
The private school with about 250 students is looking for $1.6 million to build its own soccer stadium. The stadium would hold about 800 and would be funded entirely by donations, school officials said.
Principal Russ Hart says the idea has already garnered a great deal of interest, enough that “a couple” of potential sponsors have scheduled summer meetings with the school. He said enthusiastic alumni have also flooded the school with calls after the video was posted on the school’s website this week.
Soccer has a great deal of support from current students too, he said.
“It’s not uncommon for 75 percent of our student body to show up for a game. They’re painted up,” he said.
Because the school doesn’t have a football program, the field would be one of the few in the area dedicated to soccer. Hart said the boys’ team, which plays in the fall, tends to have more student turnout than the girls’ team, which plays in the spring and whose season competes with baseball, softball and track and field so their fan support is “not quite as high because of timing of the seasons.”
“It is absolutely the biggest sport tradition we have. Soccer is a big deal at Gibault,” Hart said. “About 20 percent of our kids play soccer at Gibault,” he said. “When you’re as small as we are, if you’re athletic we’re going to get you on the soccer field.”
It is absolutely the biggest sport tradition we have. Soccer is a big deal at Gibault.
Gibault Principal Russ Hart
Director of Development Sev Kovarik said the school has had five state championships in soccer, the latest being the boys title in 2013. Current boys coach Matt Reeb has coached one team to the state championship; girls coach Hannah Shurman coached the girls team to win regionals this year, her first with the team.
“The main thing is we’re not playing at our home field,” she said, unlike Belleville East, Belleville West, Althoff Catholic and Columbia. “We play at Oerter Park. That’s a great field, except it’s not here.”
“We want to bring fans and people to our campus,” Kovarik said.
Hart said that in a rivalry game, it’s not uncommon to have hundreds of students attend, when soccer is “typically a sport that gets parents and grandparents.”
The school is seeking a variety of donations, from corporate sponsorships to a brick program. Kovarik said the process is still in the exploratory phases, but offers naming rights to the field, advertising on the scoreboard and a pave-your-way brick program. Smaller bricks will be $500; larger bricks will be $1,000.
Hart said the plans are for a synthetic field, but “it’s not out of the question that we’ll put in a grass field. A lot of that will be determined by the groups that fund this.”
“My guess is we will end up being artificial (turf) because that seems to generate a lot of excitement with donors. If someone came to us with a grass field ... well, we really like being different at Gibault.”