Written by Mark Griffin
July 02, 2010
Dave Shaffer, Lake High School’s director of athletics and director of buildings and grounds, probably doesn’t remember what a summer vacation feels like.
Shaffer, along with other Lake staff, students, members of the community and local businesses, have been hard at work trying to get things back in semi-order since the June 5 tornado blew threw Millbury and destroyed the high school.
The Lake Field House was destroyed, but on Friday Shaffer received good news.
“Owens Community College has graciously allowed Lake HS to play it’s high school boys & girls basketball games at their facility,” Shaffer wrote in an e-mail. “We will also hold our JV Wrestling Invitational at Owens.”
That is one of Shaffer’s many tasks this spring and summer — to figure out a way for the Flyers’ athletic teams — for fall sports in particular — to continue their schedules as planned.
“It’s like rebuilding an athletic department and school from scratch,” Shaffer said. “Our focus is on everything. We want to be able to operate fall sports and we also have to line up winter facilities. We don’t have a facility. The only outdoor facility not affected by the tornado was the softball field. Everything else has had some level of damage to it.”
The school’s football field, Flyer Stadium, suffered heavy damage from the tornado, and Shaffer said he and his staff are still assessing that damage.
“Of all the outdoor facilities, the football program took the biggest hit,” Shaffer said. “We lost two practice fields and our game field. We’ve lost an irrigation building, concession stand, a storage garage. We had windows blown out of the press boxes and we have minor repairs to do in the grandstand bleachers.
“We have to reconstruct the electrical service for the football stadium. The entire service for the stadium is just gone. It went with the tornado. We’ve begun repairs; it’s a work in progress. There is so much out there — each day you go out there you find more.”
Despite the fall sports season being just two months away, Shaffer said he is confident the football field will be repaired in time for varsity football and soccer games to be held there this fall.
“The goal is to play our home football opener against Northwood at home on Sept. 3,” Shaffer said.
This past week, Oregon-based Maumee Bay Turf Center, owned by former Clay athlete and former Clay and Northwood coach Brad Morrison and partner P.J. Kapfhammer, were busy replacing the sod at the stadium and putting in artificial turf. The old sod from the football stadium is being used to re-sod some of the other fields that were damaged.
The cost of the turf is $750,000, which is covered by insurance, and school officials believe it will save the district money in the long run because of less maintenance costs. Maumee Bay Turf also installed artificial turf at Perrysburg and Ottawa Hills high schools. The field will also be used for other outdoor sports, including soccer.
Officials from other local high schools have volunteered to allow Lake athletes to use their facilities.
The Flyers’ girls’ basketball and volleyball programs have used the gymnasiums at Rossford and Northwood high schools for summer camps and a jayvee basketball shootout. Lake also received an offer from Perrysburg High School officials to use the Yellow Jackets’ facilities this summer.
“We had a shootout at Rossford two Saturdays ago (June 19), and we had a volleyball camp at Northwood last weekend,” Shaffer said. “Our coaches have been really good about finding places to go this summer. They’ve done a great job communicating with these schools. The help we’ve received from these schools has been fantastic. Words don’t describe the amount of help we’ve had, working with fellow colleagues and schools stepping up.”
Shaffer said the Flyers’ volleyball teams will host their home matches this fall at the middle school, which seats around 900 spectators.
“That gym is efficient for volleyball,” Shaffer said. “We’ll be fine.”
Shaffer said he re-ordered all of Lake’s athletic equipment, which was insured, in the days following the tornado.
“We’ve lost all our athletic equipment,” he said. “We had athletic equipment for 13 athletic programs in a storage room right where the school collapsed. We had to do that (re-order) very quickly to have football jerseys and helmets when we needed them.
“That was one of the first things we had to do, order pads, jerseys and helmets. I haven’t seen the (financial) quote because Team Sports is working on the figures on that. We buy all our equipment from them. They stepped up right off the bat. They’ve always been great to work with.”
Shaffer added that Rudolph Libbe “has been fantastic” in helping the school district rebound from the tornado.
“A few of us were (at the school) about 20 minutes after it went through, and the first phone call was to Rudolph Libbe,” Shaffer said. “They were there securing the site and taking care of emergency situations. They’ve begun debris cleanup, initiated repairs...They will be the construction manager to the middle school and the elementary school and the high school when it is rebuilt. They have been great to work with.
“The support from everybody in general has been unbelievably outstanding, from businesses, community members, staff, coaches. Everybody just chipped in. There are no words to describe it. It’s humbling to see the support we’ve had, and it continues to come in every day.”
And what about Shaffer’s stress level?
“Every day brings a different challenge,” he said. “You get pulled a hundred different ways. What is most humbling for me, I’m a (1982) graduate of that school. It’s probably more my home than my actual home, where I sleep and eat. It’s been very saddening for me, from the destruction along with the homes and the lives lost in Millbury. It’s an awful lot to take, coming to school and seeing that every day. You just keep focusing on the positives and keep moving forward.”