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Quincy Herald Whig, by Matt Schuckman — The vision a group of Quincy High School football boosters had to help the Blue Devils become more competitive on a statewide level is close to becoming reality.

Pending approval from the Quincy School Board, construction will begin this spring on a $1.37 million facility to house a locker room, weight room, video room and other amenities. It also will have areas for use by the soccer and track and field programs, as well as storage of equipment for all sports.

“It is totally funded by private money,” said Jim Hansen, a 1988 QHS graduate who played football at QHS and Western Illinois University and spearheaded the project. “It will not cost the school district a dime.”

The 10,560 square foot building will be situated on the southwest end of the Flinn Stadium complex next to the video board. It will be a pre-engineered steel building with a brick facade that will take about six months to complete.

The Blue Devils should expect to use the facility this fall.

“Each and every meeting we had, you get more excited,” QHS coach Rick Little said. “And I’m more impressed with the community with the way they continue to step up. You know you’re in a special place, and that’s something that makes me extremely proud.”

The group presented architectural renderings and plans to the school board at the February meeting and could gain final approval at the next meeting, scheduled for March 27. Sayeed Ali, president of the school board, said the project has the support of the board with details still to work out.

“When we have extra dollars, we’re looking more along the lines of textbooks or technology,” Ali said. “Improvements in athletic facilities isn’t on the radar for us. That’s unfortunate because we think it’s such a critical part of our student success.

“To have groups like this, community partners willing to step in, that’s tremendous for us.”

Ali reiterated the board sees this as a win-win for everyone involved.

“Being an excited would be an understatement,” he said. “We feel grateful and very blessed to be part of this community.”

Hansen said conversations about such a facility began after the Blue Devils lost to Providence New Lenox in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs in 2013. Not only did the size, strength and speed of the Celtics leave an impression, but so did the equipment and amenities they took on the road.

Boosters soon after started examining what Quincy needed.

“Those of us in sports see it,” Hansen said. “In today’s environment, you have to have that type of facility to stay competitive, to stay on the scene. You can go around the state and see it. … It’s the step needed to take it to the next level.

“You can make the playoffs and win one game every year, or you can find a group of people who are willing to say, ‘Hey, let’s put everything in it, come up with the money and give the district and the program the needs that are required in today’s competitive environment.”

One of the biggest concerns was the Flinn Stadium weight room.

“There are continued water issues at the stadium that are addressed every year, and it’s rusting out the equipment,” Hansen said.

The facility will feature a state-of-the-art weight room with new equipment, and the video room will have stadium seating. The football staff and players have watched film at the Crossing or in classrooms at the high school.

A varsity locker room will house 70 lockers and a players’ lounge, and storage rooms for equipment might be one of the biggest advantages of the facility.

The football program can house all of its equipment under one roof, including everything for the QYFL, a league with about 125 players participating in grades 1-6. Behind the facility will be a storage area for the football program’s blocking sleds, as well as mats the track and field program uses for the high jump and pole vault pits.

“It is a necessity to centralize everything,” Hansen said. “The benefits are across the board.”

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