The “Sports Memorial Garden” project has grown — and seen other changes — since it first received preliminary approval from South Kitsap School District’s Board on Directors in February. Joshua Sewell

The “Sports Memorial Garden” project has grown — and seen other changes — since it first received preliminary approval from South Kitsap School District’s Board on Directors in February. Joshua Sewell

‘Sports Memorial Garden’ project moving along

Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation board advisor expects to break ground Aug. 3 with the project concluding in early October

Enhancements to the athletic facilities at South Kitsap High School are about to get busier.

The project to install an artificial surface and resurface the track at Kitsap Bank Stadium is underway and enhancing the baseball facility does not appear far behind.

On May 26, South Kitsap School District’s Board of Directors gave the Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation approval to construct a “Sports Memorial Garden” at the field. Joshua Sewell, a 1994 South Kitsap graduate who serves as board advisor for the foundation, a 501(c) nonprofit charity, expects to break ground Aug. 3 with the project concluding in early October.

“We’re thrilled with the work the foundation is doing to support our student-athletes,” SKSD Superintendent Michelle Reid said. “We look forward to celebrating the opening of the project.”

Sewell said that is dependent on Puget Sound Energy upgrading power to the facility to support future lighting and other amenities and inspection from the state’s Department of Labor and Industries. Sewell is hopeful both will be finished by July 24.

The project has undergone some changes since February, when the Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation received preliminary approval to proceed from the school board.

It still will resemble the “Victory Park” project created by the Chuck Semancik Foundation at Bremerton High School, but the volume of champions have increased. The garden will honor the 80 team and individual championships the Wolves have earned in several sports since the high school was established in 1921.

Sewell said the gardens, which will be located behind the Elton Goodwin Memorial Field backstop, will contain 14 granite boulders with each representing a sport or activity that has won a state championship or the equivalent of a national title. One of those boulders will feature regional champions of the Special Olympics from South. Sewell said that was done to recognize Goodwin’s classroom contributions — he taught special education at the high school.

The plan to honor the school’s athletic legacy will not end with the boulders. The proposal includes an 2,900-square-foot pathway composed of maroon bricks that wind through the gardens. Sewell said the bricks, which are 8-by-4-and 8-by-8-inches, along with four granite park benches and two picnic tables, will be available for private dedication. The pathway also will include bronzed busts of some of the school’s most decorated coaches.

The Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation also works with the Maynard Lundberg Foundation, which awards scholarships to graduating students, to honor Lundberg. Sewell said safety and drainage concerns resulted in a redesign of the fountain to honor Lundberg, who played, coached and taught at the high school. He said now “it’s a basalt-column style bubbling feature” fountain.

Sewell said the final feature will be exclusive to the nearly 400 players who competed for Goodwin.

He guided the Wolves to three state championships and had a 491-136 record from 1976 to 2003. His 1996 team, which featured future major-league players Willie Bloomquist and Jason Ellison, went undefeated (23-0). Goodwin also won 17 Narrows League and two Olympic League titles during his tenure.

“It’s just like the power went out on one of our big, bright stars from earth,” said Cully Ecklund, a foundation board member who starred on Goodwin’s 1983 championship team. “He’s like my second dad, and not just my second dad. He was a lot of guys second dads.”

A 12-by-16-foot monument in the shape of a baseball field will be developed against a hillside in the center of the gardens. Each brick will be placed at the player’s position on the baseball diamond. A gray paver-stone inset, which will include the school’s crest in bronze, will run almost 100 feet through the gardens.

Bricks along the pathway will be priced at $50-$100, according to Sewell. He said the bricks within the Elton Goodwin Memorial will be $29 in honor of the coach’s retired number. No price has been set for the park benches and picnic tables.

Sewell said the Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation has pledged that all proceeds received from this project will benefit students at the high school, either through an increase in the scholarship fund or through paying for future improvements to the athletic facilities. Sewell, who works for a management consulting business, said sales of the bricks could generate $400,000 toward the foundation’s goals.

Sewell said this is the first of several projects the foundation is contemplating. They also would like to construct a covered hitting facility for both the school’s baseball and fastpitch teams, as well as adding new scoreboards. Sewell also envisions a future where both the baseball and fastpitch fields are “tournament-ready,” which he said would be a boon to the local economy with an average of 24-64 teams coming into the area for two or three days.

But first, Sewell said, they are focusing on pre-sales for the current project through Aug. 1.

He said sales have been strong. He attributes some of that momentum to the baseball and boys track state championships during the spring along with the work at Kitsap Bank Stadium.

“That news trickles out into our alumni circles countrywide,” Sewell said. “It brought their attention back to South Kitsap … and then they find out we have this project going on.”

The Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation members also seek to make the project a learning experience for students at the high school. Those enrolled in horticulture, landscaping, marketing and video production will be involved in creating and promoting the project.

“There’s a lot of things the kids can learn from down there,” said Sewell, whose nonprofit also is offering $1,000 to the student who sells the most bricks for the Sports Memorial Garden by Aug. 31. “It’s a practical, real-world environment right on their own campus.”

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