‘It’s time to bring our kids home’

Throughout Pitman High’s 20-year history in Turlock, its student-athletes have had to share a football and track field with their crosstown rivals. Pride students, parents and staff gathered at Tuesday’s Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting to say enough is enough, Pitman needs his own sports facilities.

Supporters cited safety reasons, as well as a desire to not share a site with their rivals, in their appeal for an updated sports field.

“We shouldn’t have to go to our rival field to play our sports; we shouldn’t have to be there,” said Pitman football player Lucas Arrizo. “Safety’s a big part of it as well. There’s not enough time to play sports, and we shouldn’t have to compromise playing in the dark.”

Pride students, parents and staff gathered at Tuesday’s Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting to petition for updated sports facilities (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

Pitman currently plays at Joe Debely Stadium at Turlock High, and has since the school first opened in 2002. The last renovations the field went through was in the summer of 2019 with the the $4.5 million Pitman Playfield Renovation project. That project saw an all-weather track and synthetic turf field built at the high school, and also includes two new softball fields and a soccer practice field. As a result, Pitman was able to practice without traveling across town for the first time. The Pride community believes now is the time for the next step.

“We are here to fight to have equity,” said former teacher and coach Jennifer Andrati. “We are making a call to have our stands built, our lights to be put into place and have our finished field. After 20 long years of having our field put to the side and having to share a field with Turlock, it’s time to bring our kids home. After reviewing the capital outlay funds of the district, it shows there is nearly $12 million available. Surely there is room to take care of our school and provide equity to Pitman.”

Pride head football coach Eric Reza was also there to show support and was happy that the school community was advocating for themselves.

“I’m proud they’re taking this initiative to recognize that we do need something at Pitman,” he said. “They are tired of having to travel all the time, and not being able to go to their own locker room. It’s not only football, it’s soccer and track too. There are other events we could have at the school as well with stands and lights.”

This season the girls soccer team made it deep in the section championship bracket, while most games were played at 6 pm, the Pride’s home games were played at 3 pm According to Andrati, the track team had to finish a meet this year having to use the flashlights on their cellphones in the dark.

“There’s no reason we can’t be proactive, instead of reactive,” said parent Louis Arrizo. “We could at least get lights. It takes one injury for a kid, and you’ll be paying more money to get the lights in.”

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