A view of the nearly completed athletic complex at Lewiston High School, taken Tuesday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
LEWISTON — The sound system hasn’t been completed, but having Lewiston High School’s new athletic fields available for the start of fall sports practices next Monday is music to Athletic Director Jason Fuller’s ears.
“Everything should be ready to rock ‘n’ roll on Monday,” he said.
When tryouts commence, athletes will be invited to enter the new Franklin Pasture Athletic Complex behind the high school and step onto Don Roux Field (football, soccer) and Joseph Deschenes Field (field hockey) for the first time.
“We’re excited to get the kids out there and see how they feel about it, how the coaches feel about it,” Fuller said. “We appreciated everyone staying off and being patient for when they’re ready.”
Athletes, coaches, fans and residents should be able to access most of the complex by Monday, although everyone will be asked to remain off the track’s natural infield as the new grass takes root.
Some other work still needed to be completed as the weekend approached. Fuller said bleachers should be installed on Don Roux Field’s visitors sideline soon, and added there should be plenty of seating on the home sideline in the interim. Stairs for the press box also need to be added before paving of the concourse is completed. Bathrooms and concessions are ready at the main concession stand near the south end zone, but work still needs to be done to the concessions/bathrooms at Joseph Deschenes Field.
Chelsea Fournier, entering her second year as Lewiston’s varsity field hockey coach, can’t wait for her team to make history Monday morning when it holds the first practice on Deschenes Field.
“Everyone hates going to work on Monday mornings, but I can’t wait for next Monday morning,” she said. “I get to go to work on a brand-new turf field in a great complex.”
This time last year, with the construction of the fields and the nearby new elementary school well underway, teams practiced and played off-campus, most frequently at Bates College or Drouin Field.
“It was great (playing and practicing) on the turf at Bates last year, and they were so great to us, but everyone is excited to have our own field,” Fournier said. “We’re really seeing it as a new direction for us. We’ve got this brand-new field, let’s create some new memories and let’s get off on the right foot.”
Fuller anticipates a grand Friday Night Lights opening for the complex for the start of football’s regular season on Aug. 31, when the Blue Devils host Oxford Hills in their first game on the field. The soccer and field hockey teams also will open their seasons on their new fields that weekend.
But the fields will see plenty of game action before that. The boys’ soccer team is hosting a round robin Aug. 18, with six teams playing games at Don Roux Field, Joseph Deschenes Field and nearby Drouin Field. The field hockey team hosts a play date with four other schools Aug. 24.
Fournier said she’s driven and walked around the perimeter of the new field hockey field throughout construction, but didn’t want to set foot on it until it was officially open.
“I walked around it on Caron Street,” she said. “I wanted to save that special walk-on for Monday morning. I wanted that to be perfect.”
Fournier, who praised Fuller for keeping open communication with coaches during construction, thinks having the three fields together will add an element of excitement for players and fans on game days. As a coach, she likes that it also gives teams room to practice without being distracted by other activities going on within the complex.
The project didn’t add any new parking in the immediate vicinity of the fields, but parking should be ample near the high school gym entrance and in front of the high school. Fans heading to field hockey and, in the spring, baseball games, may find parking on Birch, Caron and Jefferson streets, as well as in the Colisee parking lot when it isn’t hosting its own events.
“It’s a little bit of a walk, but it’s not bad,” Fuller said. “It’s not perfect, but there is enough parking there that I think everyone should be accommodated.”