Construction has already begun on Reed’s future home, which will be completed in the middle of March if all goes to plan. The field faces the northwest and is located between the southern portion of the track/football field and the school.
“We’ve been talking about bringing softball back to Reed since I started coaching here in 1999,” Reed High athletic director Ron Coombs said. “It’s been a long, long process.”
The ironic part is that area has been available for use for years. The JV baseball team used to practice on it, but it needed work if it was going to be used for game action.
With a meeting in October that included Coombs, Reed softball coach Jon Wunder, Vice Principal of Athletics and Grounds Dr. Kevin Taylor and parents, the plan came into place with the blessing of principal Mary Vesco.
“The group of parents we have, have really taken this thing on and pushed it through. Everything you see here is because of our parents,” Coombs said.
Reed has received plenty of help from the Washoe County School District, especially from Joe Gabica, the Director of Planning and Design. Gabica has guided Coombs through every single process step by step, helping wade through the complicated permit process.
“He’s been an outstanding ally for us up there. The district has backed us. That’s been very helpful,” Coombs said. “He’s a big reason for where we’re at right now.”
Everything seems to be coming together on what could have been a major challenge. This winter has been surprisingly mild. Snow or below-freezing temperatures would have made the project even more difficult to complete.
“Obviously it’s not what the ski resorts want to hear, but the weather has helped us a lot with us being able to get these things done,” Coombs said. “We’ve got the skinning done. Our irrigation is already done. Without the snowfall and frozen ground, we’ve been able to get that portion taken care of in months we normally wouldn’t be able to. The weather has definitely helped out.”
There’s still plenty of work to be done as the field looks like a barren dirt pit. Reed will get the best dirt possible for the infield, and sod needs to be laid in the outfield. An outfield fence will be donated.
Cinder block dugouts will be built. The home team dugout on the third-base side will feature a storage area for all the softball equipment.
The main goal is to get the field in playable condition. Installing permanent bleachers and a concession area may become a phase II project if money and time runs out.
The Reed JV softball squad will still play at Shadow Mountain Park this year, but in the future Coombs would like to schedule the Varsity and JV games at opposite home and away sites like other schools.
Still, Coombs is thankful for the City of Sparks.
“The City of Sparks has been great for letting us use that facility for so long, but it’s time for our girls to come home,” Coombs said. “Out of our traditional team sports, softball has been our most successful. They’ve won four regional titles and eight state titles. They did the school a favor when they left. I believe 1985 was the last time they played on campus. The girls deserve a place to call their own. We want our kids to feel like when they’re at home, they’re actually at home on site. The program quite frankly deserves it.”
Another big reason for the move is the Raiders will get to play on a proper field. The Shadow Mountain fields are designed for slow-pitch softball and low maintenance, making for some rough action.
“We’re limited to what we can actually do at Shadow in terms of maintenance. We’ll be able to take care of this field, groom it and have a good playing surface for the girls. It will be more work for us, but we’re glad to have it,” Wunder said. “I’ve seen my fair share of injuries over there as a result of playing conditions.”
Reed could use some help though whether it be from cash or materials donations to volunteering time and labor. Wunder says the project is still short about $18,000.
The Raiders will be raising funds in order to help cover the costs. They will host a poker night at the Nugget on Jan. 20 and seats are still available. The big thing will be the ability for alumni to purchase tiles that will be placed with their names on them in the dugouts. Corporate sponsors can purchase bricks that will be part of an 8x8-foot stone monument that will be placed behind the backstop.
So far the costs have been very low because 97 percent of everything done has been donated. The Reed administration and softball program is grateful for the help and would welcome more, so they can make sure the new field is ready this season for the five seniors.
“It’s really exciting. I’m probably more excited for the girls to finally be able to have a home-field advantage,” Wunder said. “Obviously it’s a long time coming. We’ve had great support from the administration. The parents are working hard to pull this together. We’ve got a pretty decent size senior class. For them to go out with a home field in their last year would be pretty special for them.”