By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Sportsplex has been in high demand this year.
It is always a popular spot for city sports during the summer months, especially for the high school basketball league.
Now that schools are back in session, it seems the facilities at the Sportsplex are being used more than ever.
Starkville High School's basketball teams are using the Sportsplex gymnasium for practice while repairs are being made to the air-conditioning system at the Yellowjackets' home gym (a.k.a. the Beehive). The SHS volleyball team is not only practicing at the Sportsplex, but has also scheduled home matches there.
The Starkville Academy softball team played a home doubleheader at the Sportsplex softball complex last Saturday when an issue with the water system kept them from playing on campus. The Lady Volunteers return to the Sportsplex this Saturday by participating in the Exposure Tournament.
With all of this to manage, it keeps the staff of the Starkville Parks and Recreation on its toes.
"It's wide open," SPRD director of athletics Sammy Willcutt said. "We stay busy almost year round."
Willcutt said Starkville High School athletic director Stan Miller came to SPRD about using the Sportsplex facility and with the help of program director Lisa Cox, they were able to work out a schedule.
The Lady Jackets of coach Kristie Williams have the court from 11:15 a.m. until 1 p.m., then coach Greg Carter's boys squad works out from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. and coach Lauren Love's volleyball team takes its turn. Love's Lady Jackets hosted their first match of the season there Monday night against Heritage Academy and from all indications, it was a good experience for all involved.
As she walked through the Sportsplex lobby on Tuesday afternoon, Love called having the opportunity to use the Sportsplex gym "a blessing" and was thankful for it.
Along with Starkville Academy's softball team, Willcutt said the basketball teams will also use the gym for practices beginning on Oct. 10.
"Since they are only able to practice after school in their gym, they will alternate between boys and girls practices (at the Sportsplex)," Willcutt said.
The walking track at the Sportsplex gym is open from early until day throughout the week and Willcutt said an average of over 200 people use the track. I have been one of those who has taken advantage of that recreational opportunity as my schedule permits.
Of course, the business of SPRD continues as registration for the flag football season starts this week.
It's not just about athletics at the Sportsplex as it is also the location for family reunions throughout the year and other community functions. The National Day of Prayer event was held inside the gym earlier this year. The facility is also used as a voting place during elections.
"It's been a great addition to the community and has been well-used," Willcutt said.
Sometimes places such as the Sportsplex can be taken for granted, but that's not the thought of the coaches who now have a place to go for practice.
The creation of the Sportsplex and the facilities contained within is one of the best things this city has done.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.