‘It’s an exciting day for our athletes’: Cullman City Schools breaks ground on new turf fields

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Cullman City Schools hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new field turf project at Cullman High School’s Soccer Field Tuesday. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman City School Board members, along with Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff, joined Cullman High School administrators, coaches, players and others on Cullman High School’s Soccer Field Tuesday to celebrate the first steps of a project they’re all excited to see get underway. The $2.3 million project includes a turf soccer field, as well as multi-use turf practice space that can also be utilized by the baseball and softball teams. Unlike the current grass field, a turf field will have much better drainage and be available for use year-round. Work is slated to begin immediately with anticipated completion in mid-spring of 2024. Kallhoff, CHS Athletic Director Mark Stephens and several CHS coaches shared some remarks on the impact these new facilities will have on their athletic programs.

Cullman High School Athletic Director Mark Stephens

“It’s an exciting day for our athletes. Today marks a historic day in our community as we gather here to celebrate the groundbreaking of our new state of the art soccer facility and multi-purpose practice facility. This venture represents a significant leap forward in our commitment to fostering excellence in player development and creating a hub for sports enthusiasts to thrive. As we stand on the brink of this exciting chapter it’s essential to acknowledge the profound impact a facility like this can have on our community, our athletes and the future of soccer. This groundbreaking event symbolizes not only the construction of bricks and mortar but the realization of a vision to propel player development to new heights. We believe the key to sustaining competitive varsity programs is dependent on a commitment to nurturing talent, fostering a love for the sport and creating an environment that cultivates excellence. These core values have brought us to this remarkable juncture.”

Cullman High School Varsity Girls Soccer Head Coach Luke Hackbarth

“On behalf of the girls coaching staff and the entire girls’ soccer program we would like to thank Mr. Kallhoff, the Board and our high school administration for this opportunity. We’re so excited about it. Our senior class of girls are here and we’re just over the moon that we get this opportunity. To say five years ago that we would have envisioned this, I’d be lying. This is such a special place, and it has been for so many years. We have so many people here with so much passion for this place and for this program. This has always been one of the premier places to play in the state but it’s getting a facelift and its going to be the premier place to play in the state and its more than exciting.”

Cullman High School Varsity Boys Soccer Head Coach Will Drake

“One thing that Coach Hackbarth and I did when we first came in was ask some of the players, ‘What are your dreams? What do you want to see here in the next year? In the next three years? And then something that you could give to your kids in 10 years?’. And at the top of that list, which for them was a dream, was that they want their kids to have a turf facility. We mentioned that at the board meeting last year and low and behold within a year we’re here. It really is unbelievable. We understood the commitment that it would take and the support from the community but to see it come out and to give these players here and opportunity to use this before they leave and create a legacy that they can share with their kids eventually, is just phenomenal.”

Cullman High School Varsity Softball Head Coach Lawayne Morton

“I’d just like to thank our leaders for having such a commitment to our athletes here. Having access to modern day facilities gives us a competitive advantage and that was something we talked about. In February 2021, we were only to get on the field for two days the entire month due to rain and muddy conditions. We would find ourselves over at East Side Park on a tennis court just trying to get some work in. This facility upgrade will help us overcome the weather conditions because we’re growing as a softball program, and we have over 35 kids and we just don’t have enough room up there on the softball field to do what we’d like to do. So, this is going to help us out tremendously.”

Cullman High School Varsity Baseball Coach Brent Patterson

“I think I’m the old guy here and looking at where we are now from where we came from, just a quick history lesson, my AD and principal back in the day used to drive by and see us practicing in the parking lot of the police station. Over the years we would find any dry spot that we could possibly find on campus and over the years more and more programs are pouring in wanting to be great and it makes it harder to find places to go. Every program is trying to advance themselves by putting time in and putting work in so for us to have a place that we can go now is a gamechanger. Our young guys are usually the ones that get kicked to the curb and we’re usually looking for any dry spot in a parking lot or a driveway somewhere so to have this is incredible.”

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff

“I was speaking to some of our student athletes earlier and I just wanted to tell them that this is for you. There’s no adult here that’s really going to benefit from this, it’s you guys that are benefiting. We know for the seniors that are here your time is limited with high school athletics but it’s also for students that are at the primary school and at East (Elementary) and West (Elementary) and for generations to come. As all the coaches alluded to, when you drive through town during soccer season and go by Heritage Park, there are kids everywhere that are interested in soccer and obviously baseball and softball too, so the interest is here. We’re trying to build a legacy and something for the kids to come. This is a $2.3 million investment and I’m here to tell you it’s worth every penny because it’s for you guys.”

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