NEWTON GROVE — Jeff Klaves coaches track at Hobbton High School. But he’s ready to be the quarterback behind a potential project to help the school.
During a meeting for the Sampson County Board of Education, Klaves presented a proposal for a track along with leaders associated with the Hobbton district.
“My job as a quarterback is to be a role model and a leader that passes the ball off to my playmakers … you guys,” Klaves said to board members.
Since implementation of the program, interest has grown. According to Klaves, in 2010, he had 11 students tryout for the program, with nine completing the season. During the last school period, more than 60 came out. In 2012, when cross country began, Hobbton had six male students. Now, Hobbton is up to 21.
“Each of the teams have shown growth and appreciation and commitment to the sport,” Klaves said.
Klaves addressed the growing needs of the self-sufficient program such as funding — which is completed through fundraisings, such as a 5K event. The money is used to get athletes to and from competitions and practice at other schools in the county, with the absence of a track.
“Yet, this has not slowed us down and imagine what we could achieve with one,” he said before mentioning accolades such as conference titles, runners-up and being ranked in North Carolina’s top 20.
Since 2010, the only thing financed by school funds or the athletic booster club was a discus used to help a state-qualifying athlete.
The Hobbton leaders are seeking $300,000 to help build a track and an additional $50,000 to host track and field competitions. Klaves said the prime location would be around the football field. Unused land near the soccer field and Hobbton Elementary is another possibility.
Principal Jennifer Daughtry believes a track around the football field would also bring in revenue for the band, which received many championships.
“We’re really proud of them,” Daughtry said about the band program.
There’s also a possibility the school can host band competitions if a track was to be built. She brought up a nearby band day at another school, which raised $10,000 in one day. Daughtry said the funds can help the band and the athletic programs.
Sandy Meyer, chair of the Hobbton District Advisory Board, believes it’s a huge need for the student-athletes and a program which has improved during the past couple of years.
“These kids need it,” Meyer said following the meeting. “They can get scholarships for the track and the cross country, but they can’t get it, if we don’t have what they need to train.”
Meyer mentioned how the track may be utilized by others in the community as well.
“A lot of people like to have a track to walk on,” Meyer said. “It’s a need and it would be fantastic for us to have it. Coach Klaves is great with those kids. In a time when we’re losing teacher retention and when it’s a big problem across the state, we got to give the educators what they need to keep them motivated to motivate the kids.”
Klaves is looking forward to being the spokesperson for the potential project. In addition to improving the high school, Klaves and other supporters believes it can benefit other community organizations such as the Sampson County’s recreation department.
“It’s just the beginning,” Klaves said. “It’s exciting.”
Board Chairman Dewain Sinclair admitted that it’s something to consider.
“We’ll have to do some research and get our folks together,” Sinclair said regarding possible discussions with Sampson County Commissioners and district professionals.
If the district gets the nod, it’s projected to be a three year project which involves agreements, preparing the land and putting down the surface for competition.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.