Grace Baptist looks forward to new training facility

Grace Baptist Academy breaks ground on its new athletic facility. From left are architect Steve Carroll, general contractor Don Ocsai, senior pastor Dr. Benjamin Graham, Headmaster Matt Pollock, Steering Committee Chairman Tom Smith, Director of Advancement Les Compton and Grace School Board Chairman Tom Crum. (Contributed photo)

Amid the starting sounds of the Golden Eagle's homecoming football game, Grace Baptist Academy broke ground on a brand-new athletic training facility to be used by students, church members and, of course, the Golden Eagle sports teams.

"This will be a fitness center that will be a necessity for the school and an opportunity for the church," said Director of Advancement Les Compton. "All the students, regardless if they are athlete or non-athlete, all the teams, and members of the church will be able use it."

Since 1985, the academy has grown to nearly 600 students, and its Division II athletic program had outgrown the old training facilities. Left with high-quality equipment and nowhere to put it for the more than 45 athletic teams in grades 4-12, Grace Baptist began a transition plan more than a decade ago to build new athletic facilities.

"A lot of those things have been done incrementally," Compton said of the project, which began in 2004. "We've had our fair share of challenges and obstacles on this building, but a lot of people have come together to make this happen at this time, and we're just extremely grateful and very excited."

Funded completely by donations, $250,000 was raised this year alone. The school still has more than $100,000 left to raise, including some of the work that will be done in kind to complete the project, but construction is expected to begin in early November.

Compton is hopeful that the rest of the funding will be raised once construction begins and people can actually see the project come to life.

His hope is not without merit - after a decade of planning, a generous donor offered a $35,000 matching gift for the month of February.

"This was right after Christmas, right before tax season, and also the shortest month, but people responded with over $50,000 to match that initial $35,000," Compton said. "We also had $33,000 from previous fundraising."

The project includes designs for a new road to come into the campus off of Jenkins Road. It also includes future plans for a new training room, concessions stand, offices and a building to contain locker rooms for outdoor teams, all to be completed in stages.

"This has been in the works since before I got here in 2013, and I'll be honest, I was thinking this isn't gonna happen, we don't have the wherewithal to make any of these kinds of things happen," said Headmaster Matt Pollock. "But the Lord has blessed us in the last eight months to see more than $200,000 come in. It has just been absolutely a blessing and an encouragement and an indication that God has his hand and is lifting us up."

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"This is really exciting. We just wanted to thank all those who have made this possible; all those who have given, verbally supported this project and our Grace community - our administration, our boards, who got on board with it - and most importantly thank the Lord, who has worked it out in his timing and in his way," said Compton.