JAY (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- With high school preseason sports practices just days away, students are preparing to hit the field, but not all students will return to pristine turfs.
At Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, many of the school's fields are unusable. Soggy soccer fields, overgrown baseball diamonds, an asphalt track with wads of grass poking through cracks; these are three examples of the disrepair the school's outdoor sports facilities have suffered. Students have to get transported to nearby fields in Wilton and Livermore Falls to have practices and host the closest thing they'll get to 'home games.'
"There was some concern," said SMHS athletic director Marc Keller. "There are some facilities that need some help."
Keller said plans are in the works to restore the fields, but the cost to simply redo the tennis courts is close to $300,000. The entire project, which includes revamping the soccer, baseball, and football fields, as well as the track, will cost nearly $4 million.
"Great school, great community. High school sports here is a passion. It's mindblowing," said Keller. "Hopefully we'll get some private donations."
For Deb Roberts, it's personal: her son, Michael Holland, was a star football player at Jay High School, before it became Spruce Mountain. Some of her favorite memories of her son are from those very fields.
Her son died on board the cargo ship El Faro, when it sank in 2015 during a voyage to Puerto Rico when it got caught in Hurricane Joaquin. All 33 crew members perished.
"I feel like in some way, I need to give back. This lightswitch came on that was just a new meaning in life for me that I didn't want anybody to ever forget him and this was how I was going to make it happen. It just all clicked. I just feel like with my voice and work, I can give back," said Roberts.
Roberts is holding the 1st annual HollandStrong Summer Fest on Saturday, August 11 to help raise money. All proceeds will go to restoring the fields. The festival begins at 8 a.m.