Shaker has always emphasized the importance of academics over athletics, and rightfully so. However, recent athletic renovations suggest that the district is embracing the athletic talent found throughout the halls.
Three years ago, the appearance of Shaker athletics was an embarrassment. The football field was a constant puddle of mud, the weight room was falling apart and the track suffered from cracks and holes spread throughout. Not to mention, the scoreboards were illegible and sometimes useless.
Since that time, the district has taken massive strides to improve all of these areas, actions that Athletic Director Don Readance sees as “much needed and necessary.”
Last season marked the first significant change in the Shaker athletic façade with the construction of the $1.8 million turf multipurpose field and renovated track, which set the tone for many other improvements.
Prior to the renovations, Shaker was unable to host track meets due to many bumps and holes in the track and the football team saw many delays and cancellations in their schedule.
“The main focus for the district in making these improvements was to provide a safe and appropriate surface for our student-athletes to perform on,” Readance said. “I have heard nothing but rave reviews and praise from visiting school spectators who love the whole stadium and how it fits into the surrounding area.”
Along with constructing the new track and turf, the school also added a new digital scoreboard to the football field, and through fundraising, the baseball team added a new digital scoreboard to match.
All of these changes were very apparent to Shaker residents and guests, but the improvements did not stop there.
Moving into the 2013-14 school year, the school now boasts a renovated weight room floor and brand new weights to add to the blooming athletic façade.
“The weight room improvements will definitely draw more kids to put in that extra effort,” wrestling coach and gym teacher Mark Enie said. “Everything can be nice and pretty, but it all depends on how you’re using it and how hard you’re working.”
Shaker is land-locked and is therefore disadvantaged in terms of space compared to a larger athletic powerhouse school such as Mentor.
Enie believes that this limits the opportunities to truly improve the athletic setting. However, there are still repairs that can be made to the existing facilities.
“The facility that will probably require improvement next would be the tennis courts,” Readance said. “There are areas on the courts that have cracks and need patching and a possible resurfacing of all the courts is possible as well.”
Readance also noted that the Woodbury Pool is always a target of improvement, and upgrades are being made step by step.
The improvements that Shaker is making are a step in the right direction in terms of athletic competitiveness; however, the district will always be based on their “academics-first” motto.
“Shaker will never be an athletic-based school and rightfully so,” Enie said. “There just has to be constant up-keep and constant improvements to facilities just to keep them going . . . Some of our stuff is very impressive.”