Beginning June 1, Antioch High will be in contention for a $250,000 grant from PepsiCo, Inc. as part of Pepsi’s Refresh Project. Every month, Pepsi selects a thousand community projects, puts each cause on its Web site and asks the public to vote for its favorites. At the end of the month, the votes are tabulated and the winners of more than $1 million in grants are announced.
For its shot at a quarter million, Antioch High is seeking a grant to improve its track, which isn’t up to California Interscholastic Federation regulations. While most high schools boast new rubbery surfaces that make competition safer, Antioch’s track is made of red cinder block, which creates an uneven dirt surface making competition more challenging – in a bad way.
However, aside from safety concerns, since the track isn’t up to code, the high school is not qualified to host official North Coast Section meets. Since the track isn’t up to CIF code, any records set on it don’t go into the official record books.
“Our track was built in 1954,” said Antioch Principal Louie Rocha. “The track is measured in yards. All regulation tracks are measured in meters, so our track is outdated. It is a glaring issue because we want to provide our students, as well as students from visiting schools, with equitable amenities.
“With the way the school budget is, after so many cuts, we don’t have funds to renovate the old facility, so we need to get creative. We want to offer the best quality facility because it’s not just students that use the track. I see members of the community who run on the track on the weekends, and the youth soccer teams meet on our field as well, so we are seeking the community’s help so that we can get the funding. Pepsi has given us the opportunity to pull together funding needed to make these changes happen, so we hope that all of Antioch, and the surrounding communities, will help us make this project a reality.”
Through the effort of the Antioch High School Athletic Boosters, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the school’s sports teams, Antioch became involved in the Pepsi project in March. Athletic Boosters board member Joy Motts filled out the application and made the April 1 deadline to get Antioch listed in May, but a glitch occurred in the Pepsi Web site and Antioch High’s voting page was not posted by May 1. In order to give the school the full advantage of a month of voting, Pepsi moved Antioch’s effort to June.
“Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think that if the community comes together to support Antioch High School, we’ll win the grant,” said Motts. “Pepsi is trying to help out in this tough economic climate, so it is something to be commended. They are helping fund valuable projects that communities need, and we feel very lucky to be a part of this, since this is a prize that people all around the nation are going for.”
Motts said the entire renovation of the track will cost about a half-million dollars to complete, but she’s received support from local dignitaries such as County Supervisor Federal Glover, State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and the Antioch City Council, who have offered to help raise the additional funds if the school receives the Pepsi grant.
“The school is 55 years old, so it could use a facelift,” Motts said. “We need a new pool; we need new bleachers for the football stadium. We need a new floor in the gym, but we decided to seek money for the track improvements because the track is something that is used not only by Antioch students, but the entire community. People use the track for exercising, and we want everyone to be safe.”
Athletic Director Will Whitney said over the years, some members of the Antioch track team have suffered from shin splints as a result of running on the uneven track surface. The injury, which involves inflammation of the tendons in the lower leg, can be so painful that some athletes must sit out several meets while they recover. Another problem with the track is that its dirt surface is rendered useless after a rainstorm. Whitney said the school was forced to reschedule a meet against Liberty earlier this year due to a muddy track. But a weather-resistant surface crowned for proper drainage would make the track useable even when wet.
“Most schools in the state have switched to the newer, safer track surface,” said Whitney. “All the schools in East County have it, so it would be wonderful to get this grant. The last time the track was renovated was in the early ’70s. It’s time for a makeover.”
To vote for Antioch High School’s track renovation grant, log on to www.refresheverything.com and find the Antioch voting page. You may vote once a day for the entire month of June. Voting is free and open to all.
For more information, e-mail Motts at email@example.com or visit www.refresheverything.com.