Cruce and Steele introduce 5-year Berkeley plan
Berkeley High School Principal Steven Steele and Stags Athletic Director Jeff Cruce met at home plate at Jim Bradley Field a week before Christmas and discussed their vision for Berkeley High School athletics.
“We call it our five-year Berkeley plan,” said Steele. “We’re working together and moving forward with a cooperative plan designed to give the best student athletes in Berkeley County the best facilities in Berkeley County on which to play.”
Cruce echoed his principal’s sentiments.
“We are moving forward with a plan to upgrade all the facilities here including baseball, softball and tennis in our first phase,” Cruce said. “The five-year plan involves the overall upgrading of our facilities across the board.
“I have long maintained that being a Berkeley Stag is a privilege and what we’re doing with the improvements here is rewarding these fine athletes.”
Steele and Cruce’s meeting and joint announcement may help quell speculatoin about Cruce’s future at the school.
“We’re a team,” Steele said. “Jeff is our athletic director and football coach and we are moving forward from here in the best interests of all Berkeley Stags athletics.”
Both Steele and Cruce are committed in their support of each other and working together to build a future.
“All this is possible through the partnership and cooperation between Berkeley High School, the school district and the community of Moncks Corner,” Steele said.
Berkeley has often been called the gem of Berkeley County, the shining beacon on the hill, the school their rivals love to hate.
Having the finest athletic facilities in the Lowcountry coincides with that philosophy, and it’s already being noticed by some of Berkeley’s rivals.
“I heard Summerville is looking to improve their baseball field now as well,” Steele said.
The first notable upgrades involve improvements to the baseball and softball fields. The old backstop has been torn down and the first phase involves a new backstop and grandstand area behind home plate.
“We took out the chain link fencing and are in the process of adding a net backstop which should improve the lines of sight for our fans watching the games,” Cruce said. “We have six poles now instead of seventeen, and the black netting makes it easier to see the game.”
In addition to the netting a four-foot high brick retaining wall will run from dugout to dugout.
“The brick will match the brick used on the gym to give everything a more uniform look and design,” Steele said.
In addition, concrete slabs will be poured under the bleachers to help with overall appearance and drainage. A concrete walkway will also lead from the walk bridge spanning the retention pond to the grandstand area behind the third base dugout.
“No more walking through mud in bad weather,” Cruce said.
A new drainage and sprinkler system was installed in 2012 that helped with the overall drainage and maintenance of the baseball field. The same type drainage and sprinkler system is planned for the softball field.
“We gave the girls a new field house, improved the cages, and have laid concrete walkways that will take the players from the field house to their batting cages and the fields,” Steele said.
“We will also be transforming the lower floor of the press box into a concession stand so they won’t have to bring the trailer in here anymore,” Cruce said.
Already completed for the softball field are the concrete pads in front of each dugout that offer players and coaches easier visibility and protection during games.
“Sitting in that dugout was like sitting in a cage,” Coach Boogie Grooms said. “I think it’s remarkable what they’re doing to the softball complex here. We have more than thirty girls trying out for varsity softball this year.
“That’s how you build a program.”
Other facilities improvements include the expansion of the tennis courts.
“We want to add two courts in line with the two front courts and expand to six courts total,” Steele said. “The increase and upgrade in our facilities will give us the opportunity to host more region and state events.”
The overall facelift for Berkeley coincides with the Town of Moncks Corner’s construction of its new 52-acre Park and Recreation Complex that should be ready to host athletic contests in 2014.
“Our plan is to bring athletes and teams to Moncks Corner and Berkeley High School,” Steele said. “We want people to come here and play.”