Fields of dreams to come true

Fath­er Judge High School will have home turf when the nearby Ramp Play­ground is up­graded.

The Rev. Joseph Campel­lone, pres­id­ent of Fath­er Judge High School, was feel­ing pretty good about the school dur­ing a Thanks­giv­ing eve news con­fer­ence.

“We have so much to be thank­ful for,” he said.

Campel­lone was stand­ing un­der a tent dur­ing a rainy morn­ing dur­ing the ground­break­ing of what is be­ing called the Ramp Play­ground Renov­a­tion Pro­ject.

The play­ground is loc­ated at Row­land and Solly av­en­ues, across the street from the school.

One half of the play­ground is ded­ic­ated to bas­ket­ball courts, play equip­ment and a foot hockey rink.

The oth­er half, un­til re­cently, con­sisted of three base­ball fields and a foot­ball field.

Now, the grass has been ripped out and will be re­placed with ar­ti­fi­cial turf. There will be a base­ball field and a mul­tipur­pose field, which will be used by Judge’s soc­cer, lacrosse, rugby and JV and fresh­man foot­ball teams for games and varsity foot­ball team for prac­tices.

Loc­al schools and or­gan­iz­a­tions, such as St. Jerome, Crispin Gar­dens Ath­let­ic Club and bar soft­ball leagues, will be able to con­tin­ue play­ing there.

The $2.8 mil­lion pro­ject is a joint ven­ture of Friends of Fath­er Judge High School Inc., the city De­part­ment of Parks and Re­cre­ation and the of­fice of City Coun­cil­wo­man Joan Kra­jew­ski.

“I’m so ex­cited. This is great news for North­east Phil­adelphia,” Campel­lone said.

Some called the former field the “Dust Bowl” be­cause of the amount of dirt that was kicked up dur­ing use.

“It won’t be the Dust Bowl any­more,” Campel­lone said.

Among those in at­tend­ance at the Nov. 23 event were Fath­er Judge ath­letes wear­ing their soc­cer, base­ball, lacrosse and foot­ball uni­forms.

Ath­let­ic dir­ect­or Ed Evan­it­sky was joined by cur­rent coaches and re­tired foot­ball coach Whitey Sul­li­van and base­ball coach Joe Mc­Der­mott. Also on hand was Mike Mc­Clo­s­key, a 1979 Judge gradu­ate who played tight end for Penn State and the old Hou­s­ton Oil­ers.

The Rev. James E. Dalton, prin­cip­al of the school, offered pray­ers and blessed the ground and work equip­ment.

Mike De­Ber­ardinis, com­mis­sion­er of the parks and re­cre­ation de­part­ment, called the col­lab­or­a­tion “an ex­cit­ing pro­ject.” He cred­ited deputy com­mis­sion­er Leo Dig­nam (Judge Class of 1977) with help­ing to make the pro­ject hap­pen.

City Coun­cil­man-elect Bobby Hen­on said he’s look­ing for­ward to at­tend­ing the grand open­ing. He gradu­ated from the former North Cath­ol­ic, which had to use fields else­where for games be­cause it didn’t have the lux­ury of a part­ner­ship with a play­ground across the street.

Wil­li­am St. Clair, a 1975 Judge gradu­ate and own­er of the ac­count­ing and fin­an­cial con­sult­ing firm CPA Solu­tions, chairs the Friends of Fath­er Judge.

“This is a won­der­ful, won­der­ful pro­ject for us,” he said of the field. “We want Fath­er Judge to be here forever. This will help make sure it suc­ceeds.”

The group’s theme, he said, is be­com­ing, “If we dream it, we can do it.”

St. Clair men­tioned the Wil­li­am F. Mitchell Activ­ity Cen­ter and a re­source/guid­ance cen­ter.

Campel­lone poin­ted to the Fath­er Bris­son Cen­ter for Aca­dem­ic Ex­cel­lence and part­ner­ships with Drexel Uni­versity and Chest­nut Hill Col­lege.

St. Clair would like to help bring a sci­ence cen­ter and a trade skills cen­ter to the school.

“Judge is be­com­ing a cam­pus,” he said.

Campel­lone be­lieves all of the amen­it­ies have made Judge the best Cath­ol­ic school in Phil­adelphia.

“Even private schools don’t have this,” he said.

Seravalli Con­tract­ors Inc. will per­form the work.

Bri­an King, Judge’s dir­ect­or of ad­vance­ment, ex­plained that most of the work should be com­pleted by the end of Feb­ru­ary.

There will be net­ting so base­balls don’t leave the field. New 10-foot-high fen­cing and port­able bleach­ers, two score­boards and a home run wall will be ad­ded. 

The city will con­tin­ue to own and main­tain the prop­erty, which will be locked when not in use. The play­ground will re­main named in memory of James J. Ramp, a po­lice of­ficer from nearby Ar­thur Street who was killed in 1978 in a show­down with the rad­ic­al group MOVE in Pow­elton Vil­lage.

Dogs will not be per­mit­ted on the new field. 

King ex­pects the field to be pop­u­lar for camp and clin­ic dir­ect­ors. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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