Oak Bay High will have a new scoreboard to use once pandemic restrictions are lifted and students can compete in school sports.
Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation showed up on Friday (Jan. 15) with a $3,000 cheque to go towards the $30,000 scoreboard for the grass field. The scoreboard’s main body has been delivered – it remains in a plywood box – and on Monday principal Phil Ohl helped order the final piece.
“It will have a $3,000 Oak Bay name plate that goes on top of the scoreboard thanks to the firefighters,” Ohl said.
A HUGE thank you to the Oak Bay Fire Dept. Foundation for their $3000 donation!
Thanks to the efforts of Gary "Jono" Johnston and the Barbs Alumni, approximately $30,000 has been raised to purchase and install a scoreboard on the school's new grass field. pic.twitter.com/6jegaYsCgI
— OB News Hub (@OBpulse) January 16, 2021
The grass field has been part of the school’s plan as the new home for the Oak Bay Barbarians boys and girls rugby program. The latest Oak Bay High building opened in 2015 but the new grass field, which was to primarily be used for rugby and soccer, has yet to open. That’s because there were delays that took a few years to figure out, including a court case. In 2019 the Victoria school district reconstructed the field to finally bring it the workable state it is in now. (In the meantime the school also had the artificial turf before it was closed in 2019 when its plastic fibres were shedding into Bowker Creek, and replaced in August 2020).
Despite the delays, the grass field was ready to host high school sports in April 2020, a month into the sports-cancelling pandemic.
In the meantime, retired Barbarians coach Gary Johnston couldn’t resist the opportunity to stoke the Barbs alumni and fundraise for a new sign. He helped organize a “pay what you can” Barbs alumni shirt sale that brought in $8,500.
The height of the scoreboard will sit about 15 feet to 21 feet in the air (4.5 to 6.4 metres) and is 16 feet wide (4.9 metres) by six feet high (1.8 metres).
After some debate, it will be installed (by February, hopefully) on the east end of the field where it will have easy access to electricity.
Initially, the fundraising started with a budget of $15,000.
“We purchased it in phases. The big board we ordered in the summer. This fall we’ve engaged in raising the $10,000 for installing it,” Ohl said. “This is something that makes Oak Bay special, the support it receives from the alumni association that is something different than what I’ve seen at other public schools.”
Once the sign is up, the question remains as to when the school can finally initiate the new pitch, and scoreboard, with competitive rugby or soccer. Ohl is commissioner of the south Island senior boys rugby league and said they are still looking at options for the spring season.
“We remain optimistic that [public] health will allow us to get to the place where we can play games by the end of the year in some format. At this time it looks like schools will practice in isolation, as school sports teams have through the fall and winter,” Ohl said.
The second field will make it possible for Oak Bay to host an Island soccer championship entirely at Oak Bay.
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