By Jessica Pierce, Opinions Editor
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education approved a plan to allow fundraising for an on-campus Reynolds High School stadium with a 6-3 vote Tuesday night.
While there was much discussion back and forth, the majority agreed that Reynolds deserved to have what every other school had – a place to play football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey games on campus instead of at various venues around the city. Tuesday’s regular School Board meeting included a public forum that allowed members of both sides to speak their opinions about the stadium.
One of the most common complaints from those opposed to the stadium was the fact Reynolds was more in need of practice fields than a stadium, plus concerns over the noise and destruction of a beloved park and community area. “One thing I’m hearing is a different sense of what belonging means,” said Board member Elisabeth Motsinger, “and belonging is one of the most basic human needs.”
Both sides of the debate agreed that Reynolds sports teams did not have enough space to practice. Those opposed to the stadium claimed that instead of building a stadium, the money raised should go to providing practice fields, while those in support of the stadium claimed that the stadium itself would provide practice space.
Many opposed to the stadium also claimed that building it would only help those who play football. Supporters such as Ansley Browning, the Demons’ field hockey coach, said that women’s sports would benefit from the stadium as well.
Community members in support of the stadium also came up to speak, including Chandler Borton, a senior at Reynolds. Borton shocked many in the crowd when she said players routinely changed for practices in their cars because of a lack of facilities. She went on to claim that the stadium would “provide more than just the turf to play our games on” but allow the Demons to be cheered on by fans “who know they’ve finally come home.”
Borton’s statement to the Board drew applause from one half of the packed auditorium at the WS/FCS Education Building, where a half-dozen news reporters also watched and waited for the Board vote: “I am choosing to speak because the opposition does not have the right to deny our funding, and our athletes deserve this,” Borton said.
Another point mentioned quite often was the issue of transportation that kept some students from participating in sports. With no home stadium, supporters argued, athletes are kept from participating because they do not have the transportation they need to get to games and practices. Students who compete in sports are shown to get better grades and have lower instances of drug use and teen pregnancy, so an on-campus stadium allowing for more participation would boost academics as well, supporters said.
“As the parent of three girls who have gone through Reynolds, I think it would be nice to have a stadium connected to their school in close proximity,” Debra Gladstone said before the meeting.
Board member Buddy Collins announced his support for the plan by stating his background as a former Demon football player and RJR graduate. Other Board members posed questions and made statements for and against the plan before the vote was taken. Motsinger, Vic Johnson and Jill Tackabery opposed the proposal.
While the Board did give Home Field Advantage – the group backing the stadium – permission to start fundraising, a decision on the exact location has yet to be made official despite the fact that four plans presented to the Board had it between Wiley Middle School and the RJR gyms. Each option comes with a different price tag, and after the fundraising goals are met, the Board will consider again where the stadium will sit.
Donny Lambeth, the Board chairman, spoke out before the vote and said that while he did not like the location, each school should have a stadium of its own.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Lambeth said.
But Tuesday night’s decision allowed school and community officials to take the first step toward building a Reynolds home stadium.