By Ryan Kaczmarski
A private group of Westlake citizens with children of various ages who attend Westlake City Schools have formed a new nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising private money to fund the replacement and upgrading of Westlake schools’ athletic facilities.
The group was named the Westlake Athletic Development Foundation (WADF), and its first project calls for the installation of new Field-Turf and other stadium improvements, including a new brick ticket gate at Westlake High School. This will benefit the football, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, softball, band and cheerleading programs as well as other Westlake community and youth programs.
The WADF feels this is a worthy campaign.
“What we want to do is not just focus on football, but get the point across that this is going to benefit the whole community,” WADF chairman Craig Catanzarite said. “Youth programs will be able to hold events during the summer, besides having soccer travel teams and CYO teams using the stadium on Sundays. We even talked about using it for a three-day walk for cancer research.”
Currently the field is used approximately 40 times a year. With the addition of an artificial surface, the field could be used almost every day. Many times, in the past two seasons, the field has been very muddy, creating unsafe conditions.
The idea for the foundation was hatched last fall, which was one of the worst seasons – with record-breaking rainfall – for natural field conditions in recent memory.
“I was contacted by a couple of concerned parents last November, with the first (official) meeting in December,” Catanzarite said. “We took a while to figure out what exactly we wanted to do and to explore what the costs were going to be, associated with what we want to do. We went out and got several quotes from different vendors just to get an idea of what we needed (monetarily).”
By installing this field, the WADF hopes to save the school district money due to the drastically reduced costs of maintaining an artificial field versus natural grass.
The WADF held a successful “kick-off” event Thursday night at the Copper Cup banquet facility – organized by Cathy Axcell – to present the importance of this project to the Westlake business community and to discuss the various levels of donor involvement.
“I think the most effective way we’re going to raise the money is to get out in front of local businesses and actually make ‘sales-calls’ and ask for contributions,” Catanzarite said. “I don’t think (the funds) are just going to jump into our lap. Westlake is a very good community, the school system is great and there’s a good business base, so I don’t see any reason why this can’t be accomplished, if not for this fall, then definitely for 2013.
“We’d like to make it happen this year if possible, but we’re going to need someone to step up and get those (stadium) naming-rights,” he added. “We’re still looking for someone who wants to put their name on that stadium.”
The monetary goal for this year is to collect about $800,000, to do the renovations the way that has been proposed.
“That will get us the turf within the whole area of the track and also possibly allow us to put in a new scoreboard,” Catanzarite said. “We also would like to upgrade part of the fence that goes around the stadium.
“Beyond that, we’d like to leave the foundation open and running so a couple of years down the road, if there’s more money, we can put a nice ticket gate entrance with a red brick facade that would match the school.”
To have the field project accomplished this year, the funds would need to be in place by the beginning of May. Any donations made are fully tax-deductible.
There will be a website launched soon for the foundation at www.westlakeadf.org. To make donations or have any questions answered please contact Craig Catanzarite via e-mail at CraigC@Darice.com or by phone at 440-785-2687.