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A drone’s eye view of the massive construction site where the new baseball and softball fields will be constructed. To get a sense of size, Portola Jr./Sr. High School is in the upper left area, and the football field is upper right. Photo by Cody Callahan

Field of Dreams

When Plumas County voters passed Measure B in 2016, which allows area schools to upgrade their facilities, Portola Jr./Sr. High School principal Sara Sheridan put her characteristic energy and enthusiasm to work, encouraging faculty, staff, students, and community members to “dream big.”

This wouldn’t be the first time she’d shared her big picture philosophy with the school and community. A 21st century library, a daily intervention program called Tutorial, and a computer cafe designed and constructed by students, among other projects, all benefited from her visionary thinking.

The project that is fueling her imagination currently, however, is a $1.6 million combined baseball and softball facility. The ambitious project was approved by Plumas County School District’s Board of Trustees on Aug. 6, and Sheridan was quick to praise the board and Superintendent Terry Oestreich for their “tremendous support in making this project a reality.”

How Sheridan and the school community arrived at this project is typical of how she approaches many of her “dream big” efforts.

After holding a number of “Community Cafes” and writing down the brainstorming ideas presented, one of the biggest, standout project ideas was for the new baseball and softball fields.

Currently, said Sheridan, the boys’ baseball field is in very poor condition, and there is no softball field for the girls. They play at the city park, which means they don’t get many students to attend their games.

The suggestion of a brand new softball/baseball facility, said Sheridan, “started a conversation.”

Planning began with discussions involving baseball and softball coaches Tim Brubaker and Mike Waasdorp, Athletic Director Brian Sheridan, and Principal Sara Sheridan. After that, civil engineering firm NCE came in with drawings and said “mark it up.”

The drawings had the two fields, bull pens, bleachers, dugouts, batting cages and fencing. Sheridan and the athletic team added storage areas for the dugouts, a center area with tables, exchanged the traditional silver fencing for black and more. There will be a new irrigation system and a paved road around the back of the fields so that the maintenance crew can easily access that area.

Sheridan emphasized the importance of getting the girls back on school grounds with their own softball field. “The boys have always had a crowd,” she said, “but we couldn’t take [students] halfway across town” to the girls’ games.

The new fields will have an area in the middle with tables where people can “sit, have a snack and watch both games,” said Sheridan. “A lot of thought has gone into the design.”

Joy Engineering, the local company owned by Rick Joy, is doing the work, part of Sheridan’s desire to support the local community. “It’s going to take a lot of work,” said Sheridan. “This is going to be a really nice facility, like Feather River College’s.”

As the project began to gain momentum, “there was an attitude of, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’” said Sheridan. “But now it’s happening, and we’re all excited about it.”

She said that all along the way, they just kept dreaming big. “We’re interested in being the best we can be.”

She anticipates hosting Little League All Star games and other community games. “This is going to be a great community asset,” Sheridan added. “The public doesn’t get to see all that we do, but they’re going to see this.”

Phase one should be completed before winter. And, though there will still be things to do, the fields will be playable in spring.

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