Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias breaks ground on rural community’s first sports field
IVANHOE – In about two months, the dusty, littered lot across the street from the Boys & Girls Club in Ivanhoe will be covered in green grass and energetic kids, if a group of dedicated board members has its way.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a new soccer field is planned for 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 at the Ivanhoe Boys & Girls Club, 15892 Azalea Ave. in Ivanhoe. The public is invited to come out and enjoy the festivities.
The soccer will be the unincorporated community’s first public sports field. And though it isn’t a regulation sized field, it won’t matter to the kids who will soon get to play there. That’s because they’ve never had a place of their own to play, so they play wherever they can, in streets, on an asphalt basketball court, but mostly on that nearby weed-covered vacant lot.
“Ivanhoe kids are soccer crazy,” Galen Quenzer, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, said. “This is going to be the only green space in Ivanhoe other than the elementary school. It is going to be a beautiful gift to these kids.”
Quenzer said the soccer field will cost about $160,000 to complete, of which about 80 percent has already been raised, pledged or donated. Collins Engineering in Tulare donated a site plan and engineers from Tulare County donated their time on the project. In addition, Michael Young, a Visalia native and former NFL player and Senior Vice President for the L.A. Dodgers, drew up the concept for the field and is on the fundraising committee, Quenzer said.
The field should get plenty of use when it is not being used as a soccer field, such as for flag football, kickball and whiffle ball, or even to host carnivals, health fairs and other community events.
“We’re even building a sliding gate where trucks or trailers can pull in so that anytime the community wants to hold an event, this will be the gathering spot,” Boys & Girls of the Sequoias board member Dustin Stewart said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias has raised about 80 percent of the funding needed to build and maintain and provide programming for the first two years, but another $30,000 is needed before the project can be completed. Much of that is expected to come from donors in the community who would like to see these kids have a safe place to play. Any monies raised in excess of the $30,000 will go to future maintenance and operations.
Stewart said the process of getting this soccer field built has been inspiring to him, from acquiring the land and getting county approval to close the street, to raising the funds.
“Everybody sees the need in the community and everybody wants to help and they have bent over backwards to make it happen, and it’s encouraging,” Stewart said. “I guess the kids always knew it was supposed to be a soccer field because that’s how they have always used it.”
To donate to this soccer project, visit www.bgcsequoias.org and click on the Donate button on the left. Debit and credit cards are accepted and gifts in any amount can be designated for a specific use, including this project. Checks can designated to the Ivanhoe Soccer Field and sent to 1003 San Juan Ave., Exeter, CA 93221.
Boys & Girls Club of the Sequoias currently serves youth in the communities of Visalia, Tulare, Ivanhoe, Farmersville, Exeter, Porterville, and Strathmore. In 2017, BGCS reached over 3,500 youth throughout Tulare County providing them with meaningful mentoring with caring staff and participation in life-changing programs. To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, or to support its youth-focused programs, visit the web site at www.bgcsequoias.org or call 559-592-4074.