Although Pitman High School is a relatively new campus compared to its cross-town counterpart, many of the school’s facilities need refurbishment. Pitman’s lack of established alumni in that short time, and therefore funds, have led a group of parents, coaches and community members to form the Pitman Development Foundation, which aims to raise money for facility improvements for the Pride.
“It’s a lot harder to raise money for Pitman High School only because we don’t have that 100 years of alumni like Turlock High School,” PDF President Renee Pacheco said. “I think people feel like Pitman is a brand-new school and we shouldn’t need anything, but it’s not anymore. It’s 16 years old.”
While PDF was started just last year, the group has already made strides. They brought to the attention of the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees how badly deteriorated the school’s fields are, Pacheco said, and now the District plans to use bond money to fund a playfield renovations project for the school.
The school’s current track and field — which Pacheco said most teams don’t use at all because of the field’s condition — will be repositioned to run north and south, and the facility will be upgraded to an improved all-weather track and synthetic turf field.
In addition to the new football field and track, Pitman will also receive two brand new softball fields on the northeast side of their athletic facility as well as a new practice field for the soccer team.
Despite these in-progress improvements, the new football field will not have stadium seating nor a scoreboard for quite some time — something PDF is hoping to help with, as the district has no immediate plans to add either. The new field will provide a safe place for athletes to practice, but without bleachers or a scoreboard the Pride will still be playing at Joe Debely Stadium.
PDF has first set their sights on raising funds for a scoreboard, which is estimated to cost $181,000 and will feature video advertising capabilities. From there, they will work with TUSD to see what funds can be raised for stadium bleachers, which could cost around $1 million. The District’s estimated cost for the entire completed field is around $7 million.
“With what we’ve researched online, schools say that they’ve been able to raise anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 extra each year in advertising spots with this scoreboard,” Pacheco said. “If we can get that scoreboard by the time that the field is installed in the winter, then at least soccer and track could use it to compete on.”
While PDF has hosted small-scale fundraisers over the course of the past year, including a Black Oak Casino trip, dinners at local restaurants and See’s Candy and candle sales, the group has raised enough money to host its first large fundraiser: the 2018 Pitman Hall of Fame Dinner and Dance, which is set to take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Assyrian American Civic Club and will honor Pride greats Anthony Harding, Colin Kaepernick, Spencer Snodgrass, Lesley Young, Tiare Jennings, former principal Rod Hollars, former athletic director Jim Parker and announcer Craig Rojas.
With the upcoming dinner and future events, like an alumni basketball game and dinner that’s in the works, Pacheco hopes to see Pitman’s alumni presence blossom. Increased alumni involvement could mean more funding for facilities projects. With that, Pacheco said, Pride athletes could be able to have a more enriched high school experience.
“I think the students’ pride in competing on their own field at their own school would take their pride and spirit to a whole new level,” Pacheco said. “It would definitely give them the feeling that they belong and are deserving their own field. There is a certain intensity that is just so much more when you are defending your own home.”
Those interested in sponsoring or advertising at the Hall of Fame dinner can contact Pacheco at 209-678-6550. Tickets to the dinner, and further donation/sponsorship opportunities, can be found at www.pitmandevelopmentfoundation.com. Tickets to the dinner can also be purchased at the Pitman High School activities office from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at the Backstage Academy of Dance from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.