Jun 25, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterShould local sports venues have names? We refer to Riverton High School's Gym as Wolverine Gym, and the soccer and football fields as Wolverine Field and the track as Wolverine Track not because school district leaders crafted thoughtful resolutions naming our athletic venues, but because they haven't. Remember that the Riverton Aquatic Center is imaginatively named the Riverton Aquatic Center.
In a wide-ranging interview, The Ranger sat down with first-year RHS activities director Jeremy Hill and discussed a potpourri of issues that we'll be writing about this summer, the time that usually bends us away from talking about high school sports.
Up for discussion first was whether local athletic venues should be named. Hill said a request has been made to name Wolverine Gym something different.
Hill says that the district wants to consider the request and make sure that, "we honor everyone who has given something to Riverton High School."
That's a tall challenge, but one that will be fun and worth pursuing.
It's also a timely request for Wolverine Gym because, according to Hill, next summer the gym at RHS is going to be "redone" which means the floor will be stripped down, new floor paint and finish applied, and banners reorganized.
It will be easy then to incorporate a name to the court and gym that has been home to the Wolverines since 1981.
The district has named athletic venues before -- but not for a very long time. Wilford Mower Track and Tonkin Stadium served as home for our athletes for many, many years. Tonkin opened in the 1930s, Mower in the early 1960s. The school board has a stated policy against naming school properties after people, hence the names "Rendezvous" and "Aspen Park" for two recent elementary school identifications.
The discussion about naming venues brought to the surface again the current status of Tonkin Stadium, now a beautiful 1.5 acres of luscious green, but underutilized, grass. (Sounds like City Park). The district continues to be a good steward of the turf , which it dutifully fertilizes, waters and mows. One wonders whether resources should continue to be dedicated to the facility because no one has stepped forward with a viable community use for Tonkin Stadium.
"There's nobody that has really wanted to pick it up... They (Superintendent Terry Snyder and the Riverton school board) has decided that it is really important that we make sure to preserve that venue." Hill said.
For the near future, the grass will remain game-ready, even though Tonkin Stadium's schedule of upcoming events is empty.
Surprisingly, Hill said that the state school facilities commission looked at an aerial shot of land owned by the district, and thought it made perfect sense to locate Riverton's new elementary school where Tonkin Stadium is today.
They didn't realize the manpower and earth it would take to fill in the old bowl, Hill said, and he added that, "certainly I don't think that anybody would ever advocate that we fill in the work of what those W.P.A. (Work Projects Administration) guys did."
It's been a roller-coaster year for Hill in his first year on the job as the RHS activities director but we appreciate his candor and willingness to talk about his first-year performance that included the mess that became of the Riverton Wolverine football program in the off-season. We'll bring you his thoughts about those and other issues in upcoming editions.
While we were talking about whether and how to name RHS athletic venues, I couldn't help but wonder why Lander's swimmers aren't competing in their own Bruce Gresly Pool? The man has been coaching in Lander since 1972 and has only won 17 consecutive boys high school state swimming titles. What more should it take? Come on, Lander. Name your pool!
And, if you haven't seen Lander's new skate park just north of the new middle school at North Park, you should make the trip over to see it. It opened on Sunday.
The new skate park is a world-class facility, certainly the best in Wyoming, according to those who know. It's a great addition to Lander's growing list of recreational assets.
Something to aspire to, Riverton.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
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