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Archive for Thursday, August 22, 2002

Seabury tickled with new practice sites

August 22, 2002

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They'll move again next year when the new school is complete, but for now, Seabury Academy's fall sports teams are elated to be in new practice surroundings.

The Seahawk volleyball team occupies half of the East Lawrence Community Center, while the cross country team runs on trails and roads on Haskell's campus.

It may not sound incredible, but it means a lot to the teams.

"Oh, we're very excited, yes," volleyball coach Tracy Kitson said. "After having what they had last year, I think they can deal with just about anything."

Last year, both teams practiced at the school, 1411 E. 1850 Road  between Lawrence and Eudora in the old Kaw Valley elementary school  in less-than-ideal settings:

l The cross country team would run around the school or on one of the few gravel roads near the property. With about 15 junior high and high school students running, it wasn't the safest environment, nor did it offer any change of routines.

l The volleyball team was stuck in the school's small gym, without air conditioning. Unable to practice on a regulation-size court, a line was taped on the court away from the wall, so girls could practice serving.

This season? It's like going from the barn to Allen Fieldhouse.

"It's not only more space, but it's air conditioned," Kitson said with a smile.

A curtain divides the gym so the Seahawks can practice with minimal interruptions from children playing basketball or playing on the other side. The noise doesn't affect practice, but sometimes curious youngsters peek around the corner.

"Their ball will come over here, 'on accident,' so they come watch a little," Kitson said.

The school pays hourly for use of the gym.

The cross country program doesn't pay anything to use Haskell. With numerous routes to run and trails on the south side of campus, it's just what coach Jill Boyle ordered.

"I've been running out here and there's plenty of trails," she said. "And there's a lot of shade, too."

The team does bring jugs of water for runners, and Boyle reminds her athletes to drink during the day. Though transportation to Haskell is more difficult than the volleyball team's  only one of Boyle's runners has a car; most of Kitson's players drive  the trip is worth it.

"It's all flat out by the school," said assistant coach Heath Osborn. "There are plenty of hills out here with varying terrain, like a cross country course would have."

And, there's no hassle from the railroad.

"One practice last year we decided to go down by a trail along some railroad tracks," Osborn said. "This guy pulls up and he's some kind of railroad cop."

It turns out, they were running on railroad property and the officer gave them the complete rundown.

"He took our names, addresses, phone numbers," Boyle said. "And the worst part was, he wouldn't believe I was the coach. Thankfully, Brian was driving by about then."

Athletic directory Brian Clyne helped sort out the mess, though the team never tried running there again.

"The next day, there was a big rope gate along the road," Osborn said.

When the new school is completed next spring, its location  a renovated Alvamar Tennis and Racquet Club at 4110 Clinton Parkway  will offer the cross country team even more running trails, and the volleyball team will have its own gym.

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