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Kingston athletics struggle for equal practice time with North Kitsap

KINGSTON — The Kingston Buccaneers don’t want a stadium.

They want lights installed at the school’s artificial turf field for practice purposes and equal access playing time at the North Kitsap Stadium.

But right now, they don’t have lights at home or equal access at the district stadium.

Lights are essential for practice.

KHS Athletic Director and head football coach Dan Novick said practicing gets especially tricky in the spring, as track and boys soccer can’t practice at the same time, nor can soccer games be played while track is practicing and vice versa. One team must move to the grass fields at Kingston Middle. In the fall girls soccer, football and band have to share the turf field for practices. There’ve been times when soccer and football are practicing at opposite ends and band is in the middle. It also becomes on issue of visibility; the band has lit the field with flashlights and headlamps (hats with lights) in the evenings, and sporting events moved to Kingston must be played in the afternoon so both JV and varsity can compete.

“What we’re telling parents is if your child goes to North you’ll be able to go to work and go to games in the evening,” Novick said. “If your child goes to Kingston, you’ll have to leave work early. That’s what’s going on.”

KHS head soccer coach Craig Smith would love to see lights at Kingston.

“If we put in lights we can stack practices and can get in three times the use of that field,” Smith said.

Kingston athletics is also concerned about equal access to the North Kitsap Stadium.

The calendar in the inter-local facilities use agreement signed June 11, 2007, by the North Kitsap School District, Kitsap County, Poulsbo and the Public Facilities District — the four entities that partnered to bring artificial turf fields to NK Stadium and Strawberry Field — clearly shows a lack of equal access for Kingston’s sports teams.

From August through July, Kingston co-curricular activities are scheduled at the NK Stadium eight times, of which two days conflict with North Kitsap High’s needs. Kingston is only scheduled for the stadium between August and November, neglecting boys soccer in the spring. The calendar grants North access to the stadium 213 days — these days include the 180 school days and practices. The Vikings also have two more practice fields than the Buccaneers.

“The stance is you’re not allowed to play at the NK Stadium on an equal basis and you’re not allowed to have any money for improvements at your own facility. That’s not fair and that’s not easy to sell to the public,” Novick said. “If they say equal access and it’s 50/50 and truly a district stadium and then have no money for Kingston that’s fair from a competitive stand point.”

Smith said of the eight boys varsity soccer games last spring, only three were played at the NK Stadium and most of the girls games scheduled for the stadium were moved back to Kingston at the “last minute.”

Lights at Kingston, Novick and Smith say, would solve the practice and scheduling problems, as Kingston could practice at home and play at home, freeing up the stadium.

During Kingston’s construction, the artificial turf field was set up to support lights.

However, on Oct. 23, the school board took the lights/stadium issue into their own hands with a written letter stating the board members agree Kingston should have the option to play their varsity sporting events at Kingston. However, there’s a caveat.

“...They do so with the understanding that no further plans will be made to enhance the district stadium to reflect multiple high school use AND there will be no additional funding from the Capital Projects budget for any ‘stadium’ type item at Kingston High School, i.e no bleachers, no lights, no concession stand, no additional restrooms, etc.,” the statement reads.

The statement takes lights out of the equation, which is in direct conflict with what’s been prioritized.

Smith’s a seven-year member of the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, a group charged with monitoring the district’s spending of the 2001 voter approved bond and making recommendations for how any remaining funds should be spent, has always said lights at KHS were a priority. Smith was completely blind-sided by the board’s statement.

“Lights have always been on the table,” said Smith, who told the school board back in 2005 not to bother with a turf field at KHS unless lights accompany it.

“The intention was money would always be put into (lights) as a priority. All that was intended in the development of the high school they didn’t do.”

Smith even appealed to emergency threats at KHS for proof lights have always been intended. He said if an emergency were to occur all are to go out and wait on the turf field, and without lights, they’ll wait in the dark.

“We’re all supposed to go out on the turf field and stand in the dark?” Smith said with a little fire in his voice. “Who’s telling me there’s no intent to put lights. There’s always been an intent.”

Smith said the board’s statement was punitive and cut Kingston off at both ends.

Novick was also left slightly jaw-dropped.

“I thought it was unfortunate. I expect a more professional statement to come from our board,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll have an open mind and reconsider that statement.”

Tomorrow Kingston community members will make their voices heard at the board meeting, as they’re scheduled to give a presentation on the Facilities Use Agreement and practice fields.

“I want them to back off on their statement and put us on the agenda for a decision on the lights,” said Kingston Chamber of Commerce President Jana Kramberger.

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