The second part of a two-phase facilities upgrade at Delaware Hayes High School was completed last Tuesday when members of the Dugout Club handed over paperwork and presented the keys to a new baseball facility to members of the school board.

The second part of a two-phase facilities upgrade at Delaware Hayes High School was completed last Tuesday when members of the Dugout Club handed over paperwork and presented the keys to a new baseball facility to members of the school board.

The baseball facility, located on the first base side of the field, is 35 feet by 150 feet. After the construction was complete, the capacity permit was received on Jan. 14, giving Hayes the go-ahead to start practicing there.

"The room was primarily created to help the baseball team have a place to work out since we were moved out of the main school building to create a much-needed wrestling room," said baseball coach Mike Yinger, who noted the building is 18 feet high with 16 banks of lights. "Hitting, pitching and maybe even a little fielding will be part of the building's functions.

"Now we are able to find times to work out after school and have a real location to do our sport-specific activities. It also frees up slots for other activities in our building."

There are four cages, two of which are 60 x 12 x 14 and two of which are 80 x 12 x 14. There will be three mounds added in the near future.

"We're so fortunate to have quality parent-booster groups here, like the Dugout Club, that can raise 100 percent of the funds for a building like this," said Jennifer Ruhe, director of communications for Delaware City Schools. "It's lien-free, a paid-for facility."

The push for a new facility began last spring when wrestling coach Josh Heffernan and Yinger began lamenting the fact that neither team, nor the softball team, had enough practice time.

All three teams previously used the room above the old gymnasium, where freshmen and junior varsity basketball teams were practicing on the floor below.

"They shared the room, but the mats would have to be rolled up after each wrestling practice to be able to use the batting cages," athletics director Kevin Reed said. "Plus, the times and lengths of practices were determined by the wrestling team and it was a hassle for all the coaches. Plus, we were trying to get youth wrestling and youth basketball scheduled in there somewhere."

It's not that the coaches minded the other teams practicing, but time and space was limited.

"The wrestling team wanted its own room and those kids deserved it," Yinger said. "We're a Division I school and the kids should have their own room. When they were pushing for that, (the baseball team) decided that we'll need a place of our own if that happens.

"So we decided to look for a place and the school said they'd provide the space, but we'd need to get the funds and go through the City for all the permits and make sure things are up to codes and guidelines."

The wrestling team began putting its touch on its existing room and upgrading some equipment and the baseball team began to look at fundraisers. From the outside, that may have looked as if the wrestling team was forcing the baseball team out. That wasn't the case, according to both Heffernan and Yinger.

"This facility upgrade is just one of many things our coaches and our administration are doing for kids to give them the best opportunity to succeed," Heffernan said. "The upgrades and the work that went into making them happen are the results of a lot of people mutually invested in both the wrestling and the baseball programs, working together to help kids.

Yinger said he and the Dugout Club chose to have a series of fundraisers over an eight-month period that earned $5,000 to $10,000 apiece rather than one big fundraiser. Yinger, who teaches business, also saw the process as a hands-on teaching tool.

"It was one of the biggest eye-opening experiences I've ever had," he said. "The City was fantastic helping me to understand things. I had no idea how difficult this would be."

Heffernan and Yinger have been friends a long time, but Heffernan said this process helped him understand that a unique situation exists at Hayes.

"It truly was a Delaware family effort," he said. "It wouldn't happen if coaches didn't support each other. It wouldn't happen if coaches were selfish or thought only of their programs and worked against each other."

Yinger said in addition to the boosters, coaches, parents, players and alumni, the Delaware community stepped up in a big way.

"The volunteer work was outstanding and proves that this is a great community," he said. "Those who donated to the baseball facility included BKM Construction, Crane 1 Services, Defabco, Home-Tech Construction & Maintenance, Industrial Combustion Services, Liberty Casting Company, Marion Industrial Electric, Mike's Roofing, McKee Door, National Lime & Stone, Sargent Enterprises, Sunbelt Rentals and Testa Trucking. Plus there were more who wished to remain anonymous."