Tech Center, Buildings and Grounds and private donor make upgrade possible
A new team has shown off its talents at Kansas City Kansas Community College's new baseball complex.
Already the premier complex in the Jayhawk Conference, the field now has a new press box and suite thanks to the united efforts of the College's Dr. Thomas Burke Technical Education Center, Buildings and Grounds division and the baseball program.
"It's a win-win-win project," says head baseball coach Matt Goldbeck. "The baseball field gets a new press box; the Tech Center gets a project that fit right into its curriculum; and it was all financed by a private donor."
Most of the work was performed by a construction technology class taught by Don Balluch at the Tech Center. "It really fit right into our curriculum," says Balluch. "We are in the process of starting construction of a new house but were not quite ready and needed a good framing project."
As a result, 12 students in the class got hands-on experience in a variety of construction undertakings. After the removal of the previous press box, the two-story press box was built from the ground up including framing and construction of windows, doors and roof, insulation and wiring.
To give the structure a first class look, the exterior was wrapped with manufactured air stone bricks. "That was time-consuming because they had to be laid on at a time but it gave the students a chance to see how bricks are laid," said Balluch. "We don't offer masonry until summer so they got a little more than the regular curriculum."
In addition to a press box, the new structure features a suite and a large, much-needed storage area. Altogether, it will hold about 10 persons. ""We've upgraded an already great facility," said Goldbeck.
"It was a great project for the students who will get to see something they've built for years to come," said Cliff Smith, Dean of the Technical Education Center. "Working so close with Buildings and Grounds, the Construction and Electrical Class gained a ton of experience learning all aspects of the building project. The classes will also be helping on other projects in the future."
Goldbeck said the success of the project was due to a consortium of Smith; Jeff Sixta, Director of Buildings and Grounds; electrical instructor George Crump; Balluch and assistant Mike Bigelow and assistant coach Bill Sharp. "I just get to enjoy the benefits," said Goldbeck. "They did all the work. Don and his class did an outstanding job. To see how the students interacted with their instructors was really impressive. Also, they treated me like a customer, wanting to know if there was anything I needed. It was a good lesson to see how students will have to deal with others when they get into the workforce."
While idle in the winter, the baseball complex is used extensively in warm weather – conservatively 200-225 games according to Goldbeck. In addition to a 56-game KCKCC spring schedule that includes games for 10 straight weekends, the college hosts 10 summer tournaments and 3-5 in the fall, a high school showcase and high school games.
In its fourth season, the previous press box consisted of aluminum seating atop the stands with a tent in the summer months. "I asked Buildings and Grounds if they could fix it so we could just put the tent up and take it down more easily and Tony Sambol told me he could build me something permanent for $2,500 and I said let's do it," said Goldbeck. "But then Jeff Sixta said we're not going to put just anything up there; that it had to be right."
That set about extensive researching. "We talked to a bleacher company and they could put up a pre-fab for $25,000 but I said that's too much," said Goldbeck. "We looked at Mid-America Nazarene's facility and talked with architects and then our Tech people to see what they could do and they gave me a price of $12,000."
In the meantime, assistant coach Bill Sharp had been in contact with an anonymous private donor interested in supporting the KCKCC program and he volunteered the necessary financial support. "I got the check one day and they started work the next," said Goldbeck.
Post-second students working on the project included James Reese, Danny Wortmann, Pavin Cole, Hakeem Dupree, Zach Harrison, Chandler Johnson, Dyshawn Johnson and Michael Swisshelm. High school students participating were Carlos Baez, Star Gonzalez, Ethan Johnson and Roger Nunez.
Kansas City Kansas Community College head baseball coach Matt Goldbeck (left) and assistant Bill Sharp will have a new press box in 2016 thanks to the efforts of the Construction Technology class instructed by (standing, background) lab assistant Mike Bigelow (left) and instructor Don Balluch. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)