For the first time in two years, Turlock resident John Johnson did not have to resort to standing against the wall at Turlock High School’s Steve Feaver Aquatic Center to stay cool during his grandson’s water polo game.
Instead, Johnson was one of many water polo fans who attended a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday afternoon to celebrate the aquatic center’s newly constructed Arrowhead Shade Awning.
“I’ve been coming to every home game for the last two years,” said Johnson. “Before there was no shade and it was always very warm so I would have to stand near the edge of the building where I could find a little shade.
“This is much more comfortable,” added Johnson.
Turlock Bulldogs Aquatic Boosters President Joe Bernardi said club members initially agreed to fund the awning two years ago when they were deciding what improvements the aquatic center needed.
“We were going through and systematically upgrading, improving and replacing everything that needed to be done,” said Bernardi. “So when we noticed that people would come to games and be sitting out in the sun, draping towels over them just to find a way to get out of the sun, we really knew that a shade awning would be beneficial to the venue.”
Over the course of eight months, Bernardi said student athletes reached out various service clubs, private foundations and the community in order to raise over $100,000 for the new awning.
“The kids spoke to them and told them what our needs were and the community really responded,” said Bernardi. ““The Turlock Bulldogs Aquatic Boosters pulled together and made it happen, but it really was a community effort.”
Bernardi said that the awning was ultimately paid for through a myriad of community donations, with the biggest donor being the Arrowhead Club.
“Before there were a lot of issues with heat, so this is a huge benefit of the community,” said Arrowhead Club bookkeeper Diana Lewis. “It serves not only the high school, but the other schools and youth clubs that would reach out to a lot of people.
Once the funds for the awning were raised in March and the school received Division of State Architect approval in July, Bernardi said that Torre Reich Construction was able to build the structure in five weeks.
“Torre Reich not only contributed to this project financially, but the craftsmanship of his workers and the professionalism of his office staff was paramount in getting this done,” said Bernardi. “It absolutely is a beautiful structure.”