Armstrong: New stadium, track starting to take shape at East AuroraSaturday, April 8 2017 - Holmes Invite (Girls) - Edgar Perez
It's beginning to take shape. Hear the roar?
Well, not yet, but I hear it's coming.
With winter behind them, students and staff at East Aurora High School are beginning to get a better look at the new stadium that's going up on the site of old Roy E. Davis Field.
Shane Gillespie, who coaches the boys track team in the spring, as well as boys and girls cross country teams in the fall, has noticed. Mere mention of the construction project brings a smile to his face.
"On my way in every morning, I check it out," Gillespie said. "It's amazing how quickly the bleachers on both sides went up. That's really helped. It will be awesome."
A larger section of aluminum bleachers lining the east side again will house home fans. Bleachers on the west side don't extend as far up but are in place, topped by the nearly completed new press box.
Looking down from them, a rectangular-shaped ribbon of concrete is in place, separating what will be a turf field for both football and soccer from the oval eight-lane track surrounding the field.
Plenty of work remains for those spaces, which are covered by different shades of gravel. Construction off what will be the south end zone has started on a building nearly as wide as the field that will house concession stand, restrooms and team rooms.
"I've gotten the drone videos put together by the construction company and put them up on our Twitter feed," interim athletic director Fil Torres said. "The kids have retweeted them like crazy.
"Some of the seniors are a little heartbroken because they won't get to use it. It's definitely going to be a source of pride in the school and athletic program."
Edgar Perez, a junior, said track athletes have been recruiting fellow students for the team. It seems to be working.
Gillespie said he had about 65 boys come out last year. This year's team has 90 to 95 athletes. Michael Begich, who coaches the East Aurora girls track team, said his number has doubled from last year's 30.
Impressive, especially since this year's Tomcats are making do when it comes to training. The old Roy E. Davis six-lane track was inadequate for hosting meets but was OK for training.
"Generally, we've found any open field we can find that we can put cones up and use that," Gillespie said.
He stood in the school parking lot next to his Ford Explorer. He had just completed a workout with his distance runners, who were grabbing their athletic bags from the SUV, which doubles as their locker room.
"We're in a huge space crunch in that regard because of the additional construction (going on adjacent to the stadium)," Torres said. "But at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
It's been a long time coming for Gillespie, who's in his 13th season coaching track at the school.
"I've been around long enough that I've hosted a meet here, but it was about 10 years ago," he said. "It was a triangular with St. Charles East and Neuqua Valley. We haven't had one for a decade.
"It will be nice to have a senior night again and to get back in the rotation to host the Kane County and conference meets again, instead of having to pass."
His team, which has grown with newcomers who also play basketball and football, finished second in its division at the indoor conference meet.
"We did well," he said. "If we play our cards right, we could win it outside."
A new banner would fit right in at the new digs.