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Newmarket parents call for better sports field at Huron Heights

'We’re better than this. Huron Heights is better than this,' says parent of field without lights, stands where top-ranked team plays
20181025 huron heights ss long view KC
Huron Heights Secondary School. File photo

Kim Runacres wanted her father to see his grandson play for the esteemed Huron Heights Warriors football team on their home field for the first time.

But when she took Rod Runacres to the Newmarket school’s field, she said she encountered difficulty as her father uses a wheelchair. Since the facility lacks stands, spectators will generally sit atop a hill. The best they could do was place him behind a fence, where he watched between the chain links and weeds.

“That was a red flag for me,” she said. “We’re better than this. Huron Heights is better than this … It’s sad, actually, and I think it needs to be beautified again and bring something to the community.

“It needs a makeover," she added. 

The parents and alumni of the top football team are calling for change. They are now asking the York Region District School Board to provide improved facilities for the team — primarily stands and lights to allow for night games, but also to consider a turf field that other schools have.

This comes with the team reaching its biggest heights ever, becoming the number one ranked in Canada last season. 

Coach Heath Weir, Kim Runacres' spouse, said although the team does not have an issue playing on a grass field, they did have to move a game later in the season as snowy conditions make it difficult to play on. 

He added that the board could recoup costs by renting the field with better facilities.

“The kids work real hard … We just want the best for the kids, and for the program, and we’re trying our best,” he said. “We’re winning on the field over the past 20 years.” 

York Region District School Board indicated it needs help from funding partners to make turf fields possible.

“Due to the high cost to install and maintain an artificial field the board requires a funding partner to share costs. To date, out of over 200 schools, partnerships have been finalized with the Town of Newmarket for one artificial turf field and the City of Markham for two artificial turf fields,” corporate communications manager Christina Choo-Hum said. “Discussions are ongoing for other projects. However, the need for the field in the community and funding must be demonstrated by both sides in order to proceed.

“Our facilities crews maintain and care for school fields to ensure they are safe for play,” she added.

Runacres said parents are willing to help fundraise for a new field, and they already do raise funds for the team’s busing and equipment. 

Still, she questioned other schools getting improved fields and whether they are being asked to fundraise to the same degree. 

“I just feel like Huron Heights is not cared about when it comes to their athletics department,” she said. “They're the national football champion team, and yet this is what we have to show for it when we could be so much better.”