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Exciting times in McDonald

Coaches, players look forward to using new facility

Lou Domitrovich was hesitant. He’s heard talk before about a new athletic facility since the early 1980s when his older brother Bart played football at McDonald High School.

There was a cinder track in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and beyond.

That has changed in 2020 with an all-weather track and field turf for the football field. McDonald High School athletics are in the process of getting both, blocks away from the high school.

The Blue Devils have broken ground for an eight-lane, all-weather track and field turf.

McDonald athletic director Randy Riccitelli said, weather permitting, both should be down in late August or early September.

“It was certainly a long time coming,” said Lou Domitrovich, McDonald boys track and field coach. “I wasn’t going to believe anything until I saw shovels in the ground. This board of education, there were some people on this board that have wanted to make this happen, whose families have been instrumental. John Saganich’s family has been very instrumental in sports in our community. His father was a coach. I know it meant a lot to him. Thomas Hannon, his family, his kids and himself are instrumental in sports.

“I think the two of them working together and the rest of the board members as well. It was the perfect storm for this group of people to come together and say we’re going to get this done.”

The Blue Devils football team will play at A.A. Burkey Stadium this upcoming season, but can practice on the new field.

“If all goes according to plan, the 2021 football season will be our first season down there,” Riccitelli said.

Riccitelli said he’s talked to coach Dan Williams and said he’s excited practicing there this fall when the weather turns colder.

“What helps is we would have to find someone to let us use their facility at that point in the season,” Riccitelli said. “What’s nice about it is we get to stay home and practice at our own facility now.”

The stands, press box, lighting system, and a multi-use locker room facility are part of the second and final phase.

The project has been about a decade in the making, costing about $3 million, Riccitelli said.

When the football team is playing games at the new stadium, maybe McDonald could host neutral-site playoff games?

“Our goal of this is to benefit our own kids,” Riccitelli said. “Our board of education has made a commitment to our kids. If we start hosting playoff games outside of round one, I think that’s icing on the cake of this whole project.”

Almost every sport at McDonald will use it, including track and field.

There will be shot put and discus rings, and pole vault and long jump and high jump areas. Boys and girls track coaches Lou and Mary Domitrovich are happy to have a new facility in the works, Lou said.

If coaches wanted to work out on an all-weather track, they would have to rely on a neighboring school to use their facility. Or, there would be workouts in the hallways of McDonald High School.

Now, there will be actual markers on the track for relay teams once the new all-weather track is in place.

“I think we would’ve been pigs in the mud if it were a two-lane, all-weather track,” Domitrovich said. “We’re going to have an eight-lane, all-weather track with the possibility of three shot put and three discus rings. It’s something that’s near and dear to Mary’s heart, that’s for sure. This past spring, if we were able to have track and field, we would’ve had 25 throwers, grades seven through 12 for boys and girls. There aren’t many Division I programs that can boast that.

“The board and Randy understand and recognize that, having the perfect set-up.”

Mary Domitrovich, who is the track and field throwing coach, said she hopes this new facility injects a little bit more pride in an already proud program that has multiple throwing state champions in the past decade.

“It’s really nice to have facilities that can be used in that competition atmosphere,” she said. “We’ve made do with what we’ve had. There’s nothing that takes the place of hard work, obviously. Certainly these facilities will help us train a little bit more in the way we want to go. I hope the kids respond to it.

“I don’t know when it’s all said and done and we get to look at it, I think it’ll really get to sink in. It’s pretty neat when you go by and see what’s being moved on the property. You get a little bit excited. Wow, this is going to happen. It’s moving closer and closer to fruition. Hopefully when we see the end product it’ll be exciting to get busy on it.”

The cross country teams host meets on the east side of town at Woodland Park. There is room for another course around the new stadium.

They might be able to host a cross country meet at Woodland one week and have another meet at the new site the next.

“To have that luxury, in addition to the track and field, the soccer, the football, it’s not something many schools can boast,” Domitrovich said.

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