Northeast Times

Playing the fields

— New fields across the street from Fath­er Judge High School are nearly com­plete, and the teams are ready for ac­tion.

(left to right) Head Varsity Coach Tom Coyle, Dir­ect­or of In­sti­tu­tion­al Ad­vance­ment Bri­an Patrick King, and Fath­er Judge High School Pres­id­ent Rev. Joseph Campel­lone vis­it the new fields next to Fath­er Judge High School. The fields are nearly com­plete, Wed­nes­day, April 11, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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Count Fath­er Judge High School foot­ball coach Tom Coyle among the people look­ing for­ward to com­ple­tion of the Ramp Play­ground Renov­a­tion Pro­ject.

A por­tion of the play­ground is in the fi­nal stages of be­ing trans­formed in­to a two-field com­plex, one for base­ball and an­oth­er for mul­tipur­pose activ­it­ies.

Judge’s soc­cer, lacrosse, rugby and JV and fresh­man foot­ball teams will use the mul­tipur­pose field for games. The varsity foot­ball team will prac­tice there.

Both fields fea­ture ar­ti­fi­cial turf.

“I can’t wait. It’s like get­ting ready for Christ­mas,” said Coyle, whose team will open the 2012 sea­son with a game in Ire­land. “This is a first-class fa­cil­ity for our guys to prac­tice on. We’re very, very for­tu­nate. We used to prac­tice on a rock quarry.”

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

Judge of­fi­cials be­lieve the Ramp fam­ily will be proud that the over­haul will en­hance the look of the play­ground.

Neigh­bors on Crispin Street, Welsh Road and Row­land Av­en­ue should also ap­pre­ci­ate the im­prove­ments, they be­lieve.

St. Jerome CYO and Crispin Gar­dens Ath­let­ic Club will be among the loc­al schools and or­gan­iz­a­tions that will con­tin­ue to be able to use the fields.

“This is go­ing to be great for the com­munity,” said the Rev. Joseph Campel­lone, Judge’s pres­id­ent.

The two new fields re­place three base­ball fields and a foot­ball field. The grounds were known as the “Dust Bowl” be­cause of the amount of dirt that was kicked up dur­ing use.

The re­mainder of the play­ground will stay the same. It in­cludes bas­ket­ball courts, play equip­ment and a foot hockey rink.

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 re­cently re­tired City Coun­cil­wo­man Joan Kra­jew­ski.

The city will con­tin­ue to own and main­tain the prop­erty, which will be locked when not in use.

Seravalli Con­tract­ors Inc. ripped out the grass, re­placed it with turf and ad­ded all of the amen­it­ies. Judge is pleased that the job is be­ing com­pleted on budget and on time.

The foot­ball team used the old grass and dirt field. The new prac­tice field will fea­ture hash marks and yard lines, goal posts, bleach­ers and end zones and a score­board in Fath­er Judge blue.

There is enough room, and the un­der­ground in­fra­struc­ture is in place, for a pos­sible press box and ad­di­tion­al bleach­ers.

Coyle said the real look of a foot­ball field will help bet­ter pre­pare his varsity team for games.

“The bulk of the work is done in prac­tice,” he said.

As for the oth­er pro­grams, the soc­cer and lacrosse teams prac­tice and play on the field in the rear of the school. The rugby team com­petes at Pennypack on the Delaware.

“We’ll be able to play day games and night games,” said Bri­an King, Judge’s dir­ect­or of ad­vance­ment, who has over­seen the pro­ject. “There will be a cam­pus at­mo­sphere day and night at Fath­er Judge.”

The mul­tipur­pose field in­cludes dif­fer­ent col­or lines to mark the bound­ar­ies for each of the sports.

The base­ball field in­cludes dugouts, bull­pens, on-deck areas, bleach­ers and a score­board. The di­men­sions are 308 feet to left and right field and 380 feet to cen­ter field.

The fences are 8 feet high in the out­field. There’s sev­er­al feet of space, then 10-foot-high fences that are on an in­cline on the peri­met­er of the prop­erty.

“You’d have to hit a ball 345 feet to put one out on Crispin Street,” King said.

Campel­lone thanked alumni and the city for their gen­er­os­ity in build­ing a first-class com­plex. The fen­cing and light­ing are new, and some side­walks have been re­paired.

No longer will high winds cause a dust storm. Rain won’t cre­ate puddles.

Even the trash­cans/re­cyc­ling buck­ets look nice.

“It’s kind of hum­bling for me and my board,” Campel­lone said.

The fa­cil­ity will open once the city De­part­ment of Pub­lic Prop­erty gives its OK. A grand open­ing cel­eb­ra­tion will be sched­uled.

The school is also plan­ning a Home­com­ing week­end for Oct. 5 to 8. Fest­iv­it­ies will in­clude an alumni base­ball game, a soc­cer game, a Hall of Fame ce­re­mony and the an­nu­al Taste of North­east Philly. The foot­ball team will play La Salle at Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln that week­end.

Campel­lone said Judge re­mains a place geared to aca­dem­ic ex­cel­lence and char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. The school will con­tin­ue to ag­gress­ively go after state Edu­ca­tion­al Im­prove­ment Tax Cred­it dona­tions to make tu­ition more af­ford­able for par­ents and stu­dents already sac­ri­fi­cing.

The new com­plex will un­doubtedly help Judge mar­ket it­self. Campel­lone sees it as an­oth­er way Judge is of­fer­ing a private school product at an arch­dioces­an tu­ition price.

“It’s part of the plan to make this a cam­pus,” he said. ••

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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