When aquatics athletes at Pitman High School are finally able to enter the pool again, there will be some new and improved features thanks to the support of the community.
On Thursday, the Pitman Aquatics Booster Club presented the school with a check for $27,000 which will pay for a new scoreboard and touchpads, replacing the pool’s original equipment from when the high school was first built nearly two decades ago.
According to PABC President Jaime Van Oostende, the parent-run group was able to raise the funds over the last year and a half through its banner program, which saw businesses still pay for advertising during the pandemic, as well as dinners. The club was originally created by Van Oostende in 2017 in order to purchase equipment for the swim team and has grown in the years since.
“It just shows pride,” Van Oostende said of the fundraising effort. “I’m very proud and it’s exciting because it wasn’t just this side of town — the Turlock Bulldogs and that side of town have been very generous to us as well. It’s not just one side versus the other, it’s the community coming together to make sure both schools have what they need.”
The new scoreboard can display scores for up to 10 lanes and will be installed on the east end of the pool. The Pitman Aquatics logo — which the booster club designed a few years ago — will be displayed proudly. The new touchpads are quite the upgrade from the old equipment and will ensure races that come down to the wire have a clear winner.
PHS Principal Angela Freeman said the school aquatics program has a great group of moms on their hands when it comes to fundraising. Along with Van Oostende, Nicole Webb, Rhonda Harper and Inga Bernard of PABC were on hand to present the check.
“I mean, we’re talking hours and hours and hours of legwork they’ve put in getting people to donate,” Freeman said. “It’s just insane, the amount of stuff they’ve been doing.”
The new scoreboard comes at a time when other community-funded improvements are in the works for the PHS pool. Turlock Unified School District will utilize just over $300,000 in funding from Measure O, a voter-approved bond passed in November 2016, for repairs to the pool’s deck and plaster. This is the most recent athletic upgrade at PHS, which last summer saw the completion of its own football field.
PHS Athletic Director Dave Walls said Pride athletes couldn’t be more deserving of the new and improved facilities.
“I think the thing about our aquatics athletes is that they are very humble and very appreciative...When that time comes and they get back in the pool, they're going to work hard,” Walls said. “I think it’s really outstanding and it’s good to have your own. My mom used to say that you can always borrow someone else's, but it’s good to have your own.
“Slowly and surely, we’re getting a little bit of our own.”