Watching from the bleachers over the past few years, Amy Hazlett and other parents have empathized with the Lincoln County High School soccer players who always seemed to be fighting the weather.
If it wasn’t the rain and the wind, it was the sun beating down on the sidelines. And the portable canopy supplied by a parent never seemed to provide adequate relief.
Hazlett, a former president of the Lincoln County Soccer Boosters Club, and other Booster Club members knew there was something better out there for their young athletes.
“We’d seen these dugouts or shelters at other schools and felt that’s what we needed,” Hazlett said. “One issue that we have every year, boys and girls, is weather. The dugout we wanted is kind of like a baseball dugout but not as sophisticated. It’s basically a shelter to go over our team to protect them from weather and from the direct sun.”
While the Booster Club members knew what was needed to shelter the Lincoln soccer teams, they also knew it would have to wait with putting lights on the field a priority. When the lights went on at Lincoln’s soccer field last season, the wheels were finally set in motion to install the dugouts or shelters.
“We’ve always talked about wanting them (shelters) but the lights were our big thing first,”¿said Hazlett. “Once we succeeded at that we thought dugouts were next. That sun is so hard on the players and we wanted to be able to shelter them the best way we knew how.”
Thanks to the generous contributions made by the community during the Lincoln County Soccer Booster Club’s annual Leprechaun Leap and other various fund-raisers, the group has the money necessary to fund the project, which was approved by the Lincoln County Board of Education at its last meeting.
Two 12’ x 30’ dugouts made of wooden posts and a metal roof will be constructed along the team sidelines, providing shelter for both the Lincoln squads and the visiting teams. Manufactured dugouts cost upwards of $7,000 but the local boosters plan to cut costs significantly by building the structures themselves.
“The ones I found on the internet were from $6,000 to $7,000 apiece,”¿said soccer parent Larry Dunn, who will be heading the construction project. “I’m hoping that the shelters will cost us around $1,600 to $1,700 apiece with us doing the work ourselves.”
The Booster Club parents may want to cut costs with a do-it-yourself project, however, that doesn’t mean they will settle for a sub-par structure.
“We want to do it right and make sure it’s structurally sound so it will last a long time,” Dunn said.
And Hazlett is confident that, if anyone can produce a strong shelter to protect the soccer players at the lowest cost, it’s Dunn.
“Larry’s very good at building things. He built our video stand last year,” she said. “He’s also good at getting the best cost on materials.”
For now, there are no plans to enclose the Lincoln sideline shelters – but plans could change.
“I don’t think we’re going to (enclose shelters) right at the moment. We can always add that later on,” Dunn said. “Right now we just want to get the shelter over top. We were afraid if we put a back on it, it would make it too hot. We’re just going to start basic to see how they block the sun and try to make improvements as we need them.”
A sand-layered floor will be used in the shelter to allow for the drainage of water.
“We’re just trying to make it better for them,” said Dunn of the players. “A shelter will give them something to keep them from getting soaking wet and will protect their soccer bags.”
Work has yet to begin on the shelters but, despite an impending surgery, Dunn is hoping to have the project completed by mid-August.
“I would like to get them finished by the first home games (Aug. 16 for the girls and Aug. 20 for the boys),” he said. “If I can get enough help after I’ve had my surgery, it shouldn’t take us too long to get them built.”