ELMHURST – Immaculate Conception Grade School and IC Catholic Prep football teams will host their first games at the new Plunkett Athletic Complex Saturday.
"They're all just so thrilled to be out there," said IC Catholic Prep Athletic Director Tom Schergen about the student athletes.
Students have been using the brand new facility for practices the past few weeks. They also played four scrimmage games at once last weekend after a dedication mass.
Schergen said that when he watched eight teams playing four games at once, he saw the success of the project. The space easily accommodates the demanding practice and game schedule of both the high school and grade school student athletes.
"It brings a sense of pride to them," he said about the student athletes playing on their new artificial turf field.
While Schergen joined IC Catholic Prep in June 2012, the Plunkett Athletic Complex has been about six years in the making. IC Catholic Prep Principal Pamela Levar said the project developed in 2007.
"That's when the masterminds came together," she said about the group of parents and alumni that motivated the project.
She credited Scott Sutton, Tom Ryan, Pete Mulligan and Kevin Carroll as the driving force behind the Plunkett project, but thanked parents, the community and both schools for their help.
A little more than two years ago, IC Catholic Prep kicked off its Capital Campaign that helped fund the Plunkett Athletic Complex through commitments and pledges. Renovating the 148,000 square-foot complex cost $2.3 million so far.
"We needed to change the surface of our facility to really get the maximum use of it," Levar said.
She explained how the overuse of the previous school fields left the outfield too muddy for anyone to use after one game. With both high school and grade school teams practicing and playing games, the schools needed facilities that could withstand the high level of use.
Now, Levar said teams can use the fields one after another. The space includes an artificial turf field lined for football, soccer and lacrosse, as well as baseball and softball diamonds. A limestone path circles the field for for cross country and track use.
Levar wants the larger Elmhurst community to enjoy the new Plunkett Athletic Complex in addition to student athletes. While there is no set date, lights are the next phase of the project. Schergen hopes lighting will increase access to the facility by extending it's hours of use each day.
"We're hoping the community gets to use it just as much we do," Schergen said.