“Finished!” remarked Patton Field House namesake Sherri Patton at the cool March evening dedication ceremony. Many Fort Worth Country Day community members gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the building’s dedication and a variety of ribbon- cutting events.
Kicking off the festivities, Board President David Ekstrom ’75 welcomed the more than 200 Falcons who were present to celebrate this monumental event in the life of FWCD student-athletes and the Athletic Department. “Our vision is now a reality. The Patton Field House, along with the tennis courts, comprise Phase I of our planned athletic facilities,” he said. “The bridge from vision to reality was fundraising, and we were blessed with generous donors, as well as dedicated volunteers.”
He thanked Laura (Bonnell ’88) and Jeff Alexander who chaired the Then, Now, Forever. funding initiative that served as the cornerstone for the facilities. He recognized past Board Advancement Committee Chair Scott Sankary ’86, and past Board President Shannon Young Ray ’80, who were both deeply involved in the fundraising effort that raised more than $12 million for the School. He also acknowledged Building and Grounds Committee Chair Michael Dike ’88, who shepherded the project through construction—on time and under budget.
Next, Athletic Director Frank Gendusa said the Patton Field House and Moritz Fitness Center are a dream come true. He knows this state-of-the-art facility is unlike any other at an independent school. “Thank you to Steve Stackhouse for your tireless and relentless work on this project, and thank you Tom Mitchell for making sure we got the most for our dollars,” Gendusa said. “This is now the place to be: Fort Worth Country Day.”
It was the student speakers who were most powerful: sharing what a building of this caliber means to them and future Falcon student-athletes.
“The Patton Field House will make a huge difference in athletics at Fort Worth Country Day, providing additional workout space and state-of-the-art machines, improving student-athletes’ abilities to get a quick workout without waiting for another team to finish,” said Kat Clum ’18.
The fact that the Patton Field house provides full-purpose athletic training facilities in close proximity, allowing student-athletes the ability to work out during the school day and see athletic trainers as needed is important to Clum. “Unfortunately, I will get to know just how convenient this is. During basketball season, while rebounding, a girl fell on me and I injured my knee. Since then, I have been attending physical therapy off campus to help get me back on the softball field in time for SPC,” she said. “I will now be able to use the Patton Field House to do my doctor-prescribed physical therapy work to strengthen my knee. The convenience of this location will allow student-athletes to get treatment during school hours or before games or practices. For me, I put strain on my arm pitching for my school team, something I do not do for my select team. Being able to walk over to the field house to heat my arm during free period is much more efficient than it was before.”
Although senior Spencer Pergande has only this spring season in the Field House, he is excited for his fellow Falcons. “Teams will now have the opportunity to meet in the comfort of The Roach Center, rather than in Coach Rozanski’s Lower School Science Lab, as the soccer team frequently did,” he said. “I promise you no matter what position you sit in in those Lower School chairs, they are just too small.”
He touched on the fact that the football team will now watch film in the Walsh Foundation Boys’ Locker Room during halftime, and athletes will develop their speed and strength in the Moritz Fitness Center.
Following the students, Head of School Eric Lombardi reveled in his luck and timing. “A month into my time at Fort Worth Country Day, I stood here at the edge of our old tennis courts, and I took a shovel and broke the ground with many of the same people who are here today,” he said. “I could not have been more honestly humble. The same humility fits as we get to enjoy the final truly amazing project of the many shovels, the cement trucks, the tilt wall machinery, the electricians and the painters, the contractor crew ….”
He thanked his FWCD team: Sandra Tuomey, Director of Advancement; Frank Gendusa, Athletic Director; and Steve Stackhouse, Assistant Head and Acting Head of Upper School. He thanked the many donors for their transformative gifts, as well as the many volunteers who donated their time, thoughts and wisdom in the building process.
“The space really speaks for itself: from great meeting spaces to an absolutely tremendous workout facility; from fabulous locker rooms to our world-class space for Trainer Ed and Chelsea,” Lombardi said. “This is our one formal, big chance to thank every donor, small dollar to big dollar, anonymous to named.”
Bobby and Sherri Patton and Leslie and John David Moritz stepped forward as Lombardi presented student-artist renderings of the field house and the fitness center.
Bird Luker ’19 drew the rendering of the Patton Field House for the Pattons and other donors from a photograph taken by Lily Peter ’18. Jonathen Wilks ’17 took the photograph of the Moritz Fitness center, a compilation of more than 20 photos that he “photo-shopped” together for one panoramic piece.
Sherri spoke briefly about her passion for the building: As she alluded to the invitation declaring the project "Finished," she said, “I don’t know about you but I just got the chills. This was a long time coming and I am grateful to the School for making it possible.”
She spoke about when she and Bobby were looking for school for their children, Rachel ’19 and Robert. “Country Day quickly rose to the top because of its beautiful campus, its mission and its caring community,” she noted. “The weight room and locker rooms where not up to the same standards of excellence.”
When she and Bobby did a walkthrough of the building in May 2016 as it was under construction, they were invited to graffiti the wall. “I wrote ‘Bless all who enter,’” Sherri said. “I truly hope this building blesses future generations. Now let’s get this building open!”
Sherri and Bobby then stepped forward to officially cut the ribbon to open it to the community. Members then moved inside to observe donors cut ribbons in their respective rooms:
Amon Carter Athletic Administration Suite
Landreth Sports Hall
PFA Womens’ Coaches Office
Petsche Mens’ Coaches Office
Moritz Fitness Center
Walsh Foundation Varsity Boys’ Locker Room
William E. Scott Foundation Athletic Training Suite
Murph Middle School Boys’ Locker Room
The evening concluded with many walk-throughs of the Patton Field House Facility and the burger-flipping skills of senior dads Jonny Brumley, Whit Kelly ’80, Peter Tunnard, Tom Puff, Chad Liberto, Michael Dike '88 and Paul Ray '89.