GREENFIELD — Jason Stewart knew Greenfield-Central deserved more. He knew it could do better.
Eleven seasons ago, Stewart, then a rookie head coach for the Cougars softball team, had a vision. He saw what the softball program could be. He knew what it deserved.
Almost a dozen years later, and Stewart’s vision is unfolding before his Cougars’ eyes.
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After several months of planning and fundraising, Stewart and the Greenfield-Central softball program unveiled a new scoreboard positioned squarely in center field last week in the team’s home opener April 13 against Westfield.
The team broke it in well, too, scattering 13 hits, including two home runs, in a 13-8 win.
“When I took over, there was very little to do with the program,” Stewart said. “It was very below average for a school our size. I had a wish list of things I wanted to do. We took baby steps with everything, but it has had a complete facelift.
“I would give anything to remember how it looked 10 years ago. This was one of the final touches, but we are starting to get to the end of what I envisioned the ballpark looking like when I took over years ago.”
The new scoreboard replaces the old one, which, according to Stewart, had been in place for six or seven years before his arrival. The new board features what the coach desired — a seven-inning board with the team’s name and logo attached at the top.
“The scoreboard is a great addition to our softball facility and to our athletic facilities in general,” added Greenfield-Central athletics director Jared Manning. “As a program, athletic department and school corporation, we continue to strive to update and maintain our first-class facilities for our student athletes.
“A big thank-you to coach Stewart for the time that he spent designing and getting the project completed and to our school administration and school board for their support of the project. We look forward to seeing a lot of Cougar wins put up on the new scoreboard.”
Greenfield-Central is doing just that this season, jumping out to a perfect 8-0 start, including a Hoosier Heritage Conference win against Delta on Monday. For Stewart, though, the project has more to do with pride than the number of wins and losses.
Last season on the road at Noblesville, a team Stewart decided to add to bolster Greenfield-Central’s schedule, the veteran head coach saw something he liked. Walking up to the softball field, Stewart immediately noticed the opposing team’s scoreboard.
“It hit me right then, I want that,” Stewart said. “I was like a kid in a candy store. I started researching right after that and called the guys from the company (Daktronics) and put some designs together.”
Stewart then sought approval from the school board, which offered to pay for half of the total cost, and turned to summer tournaments in hopes of raising enough funds for the rest of the project. The money, according to Stewart, was cleared in November, with the scoreboard to be installed in the middle of April.
Luckily, with the substantial rain received early in the spring season and the company’s willingness to cooperate, the new piece of equipment was installed April 5 while the team was playing an away game at Guerin Catholic.
“It really came down to crunch time,” Stewart said. “It was originally scheduled to go in April 14. We left for an away game that night. We get home and its dark, but I could see it was up.
“So we drop off the kids, come back and crank up the lights at 9 p.m. at night so we can see it. It was cool; we were excited.”
It was exactly what he had in mind.
“It looks incredible. I am a baseball nut, and I love seeing stadiums,” Stewart said. “It’s the one sport everything is going to look different. Football and basketball are generally the same (looking). I wanted to make one of the most unique scoreboards in the state.
“I wanted something this community could be proud of and when little kids walk up, they want to play there someday.”