JPPS-Bialik High School now has its “field of dreams,” and is confident that “they will come.”
The new regulation-sized artificial turf sports field and adjacent basketball court were inaugurated at the Côte-St-Luc, Que., school with much fanfare on Aug. 30.
In the planning for several years, the Cons Sports Facility and Tehrani Basketball Court are unique in Quebec, according to the school’s president, Lee Wise.
“It is the latest, most state-of-the-art generation of infilled synthetic turf available anywhere,” he said. “It contains no recycled tire rubber. The TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) infill material stays cooler, doesn’t smell and contains no questionable chemicals.… This is without doubt the safest, highest-tech field in the province.”
Wise, who graduated from Bialik in 1985, said the new complex transforms “a field of dirt to a field of our dreams.” It replaces a well-worn grassed yard and running track.
A new position of senior athletics co-ordinator was created and Matt Starr was hired to fill it. He previously worked as the equipment and team manager of the Montreal Impact Academy, the professional soccer team’s youth development program.
Wise said many thought what JPPS-Bialik wanted to build was impossible, and it might not have happened had Ken Gilman not become a new parent at the school.
His family has a long history in the artificial turf business. He introduced Wise to Luciano Catalogna, whose family owns the huge Catalogna soccer complex in Lachine, and he and Gilman were instrumental in the design, and negotiating “an incredible deal” on the construction.
The campaign to raise the necessary funds was conducted by the JPPS-Bialik Foundation, which is chaired by Joanna Yufe Naimer, a 1991 alumna.
In addition to soccer, the field can be used for touch football, track and field, field hockey and lacrosse, among other regulation sports, as well as winter sports and physical education classes.
The school is better equipped now to participate in intra-school and municipal sports at the recreational and competitive levels. A new hockey program, for example, is being launched in conjunction with the City of Côte-St-Luc.
While the facility significantly enhances the athletics program, Wise said the broader goal is to encourage the fitness of all students, both physical and mental.
It is the latest, most state-of-the-art generation of infilled synthetic turf available anywhere.
– Lee Wise
JPPS-Bialik co-head of school Avi Satov said that “health and wellness” have been added to the school’s “pillars of academic excellence, Jewish identity and affiliation with Israel.”
He hopes JPPS-Bialik will be able to attract families who might otherwise choose other private schools because of their sports programs. The school also has two indoor gymnasiums.
“Sports science studies show that participation in sports activities improves school performance and builds self-esteem,” said Satov.
Among the dignitaries present at the inauguration were Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum and Sidney Benudiz, director-general of the Association of Jewish Day Schools.
The school’s new initiative, called Project Fit, is intended to encourage healthy living, encompassing “mind, body and spirit,” among all of the close to 500 students, as well as staff.
The kids and teachers will be invited to take part in lunchtime activities, such as CrossFit, yoga and other programs intended to get them away from their screens for a while.
At JPPS, mindfulness is to be practised daily in the belief that it helps students and staff “focus inward and start their day intentionally and purposefully.”