I support Proposition 2 on the Oct 4. municipal election ballot and will be voting yes for trail improvements, a new public cabin and new turf and track for youth sports. I am urging my friends, neighbors, former teammates, players’ parents and everyone else to also vote yes.
This is very personal to me – for several reasons.
First, Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park is named in part for my grandfather, who I never got to meet. Richard Adair and Jimmy Kennedy were Juneau police officers killed in an ambush more than 40 years ago. They were responding to a report of gunfire in the highlands above downtown when they were shot down. I wasn’t born until years later.
Proposition 2 would greatly improve the Adair-Kennedy field and running track. I grew up here and spent thousands of hours playing softball and other sports in Juneau. I played softball for Juneau-Douglas High School and in college. I’ve come full circle and now help coach for JDHS and the Midnight Suns program. Like all of my former Juneau teammates and all of the softball and baseball players before and since my playing days, I know what it’s like to slop around in the mud and hydroplane through puddles while sliding into second base.
It doesn’t need to be like that anymore, and in most of Alaska it’s not. Anchorage and Fairbanks teams have been playing on turf fields for a generation. Ketchikan passed a bond issue last year and is now turfing its fields. Sitka opened an upgraded turf field for baseball and softball a decade ago. For Juneau, Proposition 2 includes funding to finally lay turf on the Adair-Kennedy baseball field and configure it for use by girls’ softball as well.
It’s not just about less mud and more safety. With a new turf field Juneau can eventually host statewide baseball and softball tournaments, as Sitka did for Little League this summer. That brings more teams, more families and more revenue to our community.
It’s also about skill levels and giving Juneau’s future players a shot at playing college and even pro ball. We’ve had such success in the past – and hope for even more. Which is another reason Proposition 2 is important to me.
As a coach, I know that I can teach more advanced skills when the field is level and the bounces are true. I saw that when I played college ball in California. Instead of just focusing on catching the ball as it skips and ricochets through mud and rocks, I and the other coaches can instead teach our players about improving their footwork, positioning, glove skills and throwing accuracy. To casual fans, those might seem like small things, but they can make all the difference when college scholarships are awarded.
Now my own daughters are playing ball. They and their teammates are well aware of Juneau’s past and current success in softball and baseball. And, believe me, they are all working hard to continue the tradition. We are proud as a community when our athletes do their best – whether they bring home a state championship or battle their hearts out in a losing effort.
So I think it’s time for Juneau voters to step up to the plate and make sure playing conditions for our athletes are on par with other Alaska communities.
Obviously, I’m a softball geek. But I want to mention too that Proposition 2 also generates funds for a long overdue upgrade to the running track at Adair-Kennedy, a new public use cabin similar to the super-popular one at Amalga, as well as trail improvements throughout Juneau.
That’s another reason this vote is important to me: I probably spend as much time on the trails with family and friends as I do on the softball fields. They are one of the joys of living in Juneau and I am thankful for all of the hard work – and any funding – that goes into maintaining and upgrading our trail system.
All of these improvements are big wins for Juneau. No matter what your interest is, these options promote healthy activities for kids and families. That’s why I am urging everyone to vote Yes on Proposition 2 on Oct. 4.
• Nicole Adair is assistant coach of the JDHS softball team and is head of coaches for the Midnight Suns youth softball program.