Four years after a proposal to name the Turlock High School baseball field after longtime head coach Mark de la Motte was struck down by the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees, a similar motion has been introduced.
A committee consisting of TUSD staff, faculty, students, alumni and Turlock community members is once again proposing that the varsity baseball field at THS be named after de la Motte. The committee is confident that the updated policy regarding the naming of school facilities, which now allows non-deceased individuals to have facilities named after them, can open the door for the field to bear de la Motte’s namesake.
“This request was first made in March of 2018. When it came to the board, they had questions on our policy of naming facilities,” explained Barney Gordon III, TUSD assistant superintendent of business services. “There were some discussions, whether you should name facilities after people while they're still living or name facilities after people that are still employed with the district…
The bottom line is we didn't have a very good policy on naming of facilities.”
The following year, the school district officially adopted board policy 7310, which states that school facilities may be named after individuals, living or deceased, or entities that have made outstanding contributions to the school community or who have made contributions of statewide, national, or worldwide significance.
“If somebody is living and gets to see a facility renamed after them, that's great, and sometimes when folks are deceased, you make that memoriam and that's perfectly individually appropriate as well,” Gordon added.
Ed Felt is the commissioner of the Central California Athletic League. Prior to serving in this position, Felt served as an educator and administrator at Turlock High School. He spoke about his experiences with de la Motte over the years and explained why he feels as if there is no one more deserving of having the baseball field named after him.
“I've been around a lot of coaches all my life, a lot educators all my life and I’ve been around athletics, and so I feel fairly qualified when I stick my neck out to make a proposal like this,” Felt said. “Many have observed what separates Mark… He went above and beyond the call of duty as far as what he did for the baseball program and the Turlock community.”
During de la Motte’s 26-year reign as head baseball coach, the Bulldogs won over 500 games with eight Central California Conference championships and two section title appearances. Additionally, over 100 of his student-athletes continued playing at the college level while dozens of others have played baseball professionally.
All the all the accomplishments on the field are a big deal, but the real difference is made off the field and helping kids and teaching them lessons,” added Turlock High teacher and coach Lance Cornell. “When I think back when I was coaching with them, what sticks out to me the most is how respectful he was to parents, players, opposing coaches, umpires and obviously his own coaches.”
The last TUSD board meeting of the academic year is on June 21. The committee is planning on meeting the week before to check base and possibly submit a recommendation to the board to review prior to summer vacation.
“Naming of public facilities in our community is a time-honored tradition. The process of honoring, in perpetuity, men and women who have contributed to our community is one the District takes seriously. We look forward to a robust and transparent processes of information gathering so the THS Varsity Baseball Field Naming Committee can make a well informed, and honest recommendation to the Board of Trustees,” Gordon said.
For more information on the naming of facilities, the naming committee, or to provide input into the process, community members are encouraged to go to www.turlock.k12.ca.us/namingcommittee.