For the past few decades, the Staples softball team has ventured to nearby Greens Farms Elementary School for its home games. Thanks to a community effort and available space at Wakeman Field, the Wreckers now have a home much closer to the high school.
The journey, which began in 2011 when the idea of moving was introduced by Susan Jacobson, culminated on Monday as the Wreckers officially opened their field at Wakeman prior to their game with Harding.
"I was really excited that we would be closer to Staples," Wreckers senior Katherine Friend said. "We could get more fans to come out, because Greens Farms is a bit of a trek for us. It's easier for us and hopefully easier for people to come out."
The project, termed "Got Field?", involved many in the Westport community. Susan Jacobson developed the idea when her daughter was on the team, and formed a project board with John Friend and Elise Stone.
The junior varsity field, which is behind Staples High, was considered, but the site was hindered by poor drainage, according to Jacobson. Wakeman was then suggested and Rick Burke and his construction company built the field.
"It's special for me," said Rick's daughter Katie, a senior on the team. "I got to work on the field, my initials are on the field; it was a big thing for me that my dad helped build it and big for the girls."
The current varsity players played a role in helping build the stadium as well. The group held car washes and bake sales in addition to selling bracelets.
Staples played three games in as many days at its new home last week, posting a 2-1 record. The Wreckers hope their new home will lead to an increase in interest at the youth level, which could have an impact on the varsity team down the road.
"The past couple of years we've been struggling with numbers, especially this year we've struggled to field two teams," Katie Burke said. "Knowing that there are more kids coming up, when they come here and take our place, hopefully there will be a stronger program and see a little bit more success."
The project raised $65,000 in addition to donated scoreboards. Following its game against Harding, an 18-0 win, Staples has five home games remaining at Wakeman.
"Without the Wakeman homestead and these beautiful fields that were once covered with corn and greens beans, our girls wouldn't have a home," Jacobson said. "The Wakeman homestead has now become, and forever will be, a home for our girls and the entire Westport softball community."
"I'm blessed to be able to play on this field," Katie Burke added. "Obviously I'm going to miss it when I go off to college. The times I get on here I'm going to cherish the most."