I was on my way to the Waterford High School field house on Tuesday to talk to three seniors who were signing their national letters of intent and I couldn't figure out which door to use at the school that would get me there. As it turns out, due to the ongoing construction at Waterford, neither could the players, their parents or coaches.
It reminded me one more time of the plight this fall of athletic director Dave Sousa.
Because of the construction, all Sousa had to do as AD was find different venues for the soccer team (Spera Field), volleyball team (old gym at the high school), swim team (UConn-Avery Point), football team (every game was played on the road, with one home game at the Coast Guard Academy) and cheerleaders (Clark Lane Middle School).
"Kids are pretty resilient," Sousa said, asked how the Lancers collectively managed to adjust to being nomads. "I had very few complaints, if ever. You had to resolve the issues; we thought our pool would be ready and it wasn't.
"The hardest thing was I had to move out of my office. This place was all gutted. I couldn't find stuff."
The entire construction project at the high school is reported to cost more than $60 million and that includes the installation of FieldTurf on the football field, which will also now be used for field hockey, soccer and lacrosse. The turf has been installed, but is not available to host Waterford's Thanksgiving Day game against East Lyme because it was deemed the construction site is still too dangerous for the school to accommodate a large crowd.
Waterford's pool was entirely renovated and is expected to be ready in time for the winter season. The field house was given a coat of paint and was made handicap-accessible. The locker rooms will be brand new. A state-of-the-art eight-lane track is not yet ready, meaning the Lancers will compete at New London in track and field once again. New London's swimmers will swim at Waterford in a swap of sorts.
"It's gorgeous. We couldn't have asked for more," Sousa said of Waterford's new facility. "To get something nice … unfortunately it's a mess, but it's worth it. When it's finished, it might be one of the nicest ones in the state."