The East Bay Athletic League has long been one the best and most desirable high school athletic leagues in Northern California.
The schools all fall in wonderful communities, the athletes are among the elite in Northern California, and the facilities have always been among the best you could find.
That is, at least for the most part.
Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley, California, Dougherty Valley, and Dublin high schools all have facilities that rival small colleges. Now you can add Granada and Livermore to the list.
The Matadors and Cowboys stepped into the new and modern facilities thanks to Measure J being passed in Livermore a few years back.
Granada’s facilities have been done for a little over a year now, with Livermore finally moving into their new digs May 15 of this year.
Having the pleasure of touring both facilities it left me with one thought – Wow!
And it has made an immediate impact at both schools.
“I mean, the only way to describe what’s been done is that it is a game-changer,” said Livermore Athletic Director/boys’ basketball coach James Petersdorf.
The centerpiece for Livermore is the “Cowboy Athletic Complex,” a two-story facility that features a brand new gym, weight room, team room, athletic director’s office, and other office space on the lower level. The second level has a second gym and a wrestling room.
The final piece of the puzzle is the swimming complex that is not yet finished but should be done this school year.
Oh, and the complex is climate controlled, something new to the campus.
“I mean we are in Livermore,” said Petersdorf, himself a Livermore graduate. “It was getting up over 110 degrees during the summer months. Now, it’s 72 degrees.”
It took no time for Petersdorf to see a change in the demeanor of the Livermore students.
“It was more than just the athletes where you felt the excitement immediately,” said Petersdorf. “The kids are all buying in that this is their facility. The first time it hit me was when I saw one of the kids picking up some garbage off the floor. They want to keep it clean.”
Over at Granada, the new facilities include a new weight room, P.E. classroom that all the teams can use as well to watch film, a trainer’s room, athletic director’s office, wrestling room, and a dance studio.
There is also a new pool, and a pair of sand volleyball courts. The pool is amazing, featuring a big electronic scoreboard that is tied into the walls of the pool, allowing for the times to instantly appear on the board, just as they do in big international meets.
It also has had an impact on the student body.
“As time has gone on, I am seeing more kids using the facility,” said new Granada principal Clark Conover, a former coach at the school. “We offered a program called 'Learn how to lift,' where all the students got a chance to work with an instructor in the weight room.”
Granada has always had the edge on Livermore when it came to overall facilities, and it showed with many athletes in the Livermore area going across town to Granada.
Now it’s getting close to even.
“If a kid was 50/50 as to which school they were going to attend, we usually lost,” said Petersdorf. “Now I think we will be able to keep our kids. We have some great coaches, but we just didn’t have the facilities. Now we do.”
Being realistic, the quality of your athletic teams affects the overall demeanor of the school. Good athletic teams draw the students out to the games and set a sense of pride for the entire school.
“If your teams aren’t good, then the students are not into it,” said Petersdorf.
Conover takes it one step further.
“Athletics can mean so much to so many kids,” said Conover. “There are studies that have shown that kids that are involved in their schools in athletics or other activities usually get better grades.”
The new facilities in Livermore leaves Amador Valley and Foothill as the lone schools in the EBAL playing in outdated facilities. Once the pride of EBAL facilities, both schools are stuck with embarrassing facilities in a relative way to the rest of the schools.
The three middle schools in Pleasanton all have better gyms than the two high schools.
The Pleasanton district has a bond on the November ballot to fund improvements to facilities, and new athletic facilities for the two high schools are badly needed.
Passing bonds in Pleasanton is no certain thing, as people in the city, myself included, have questioned exactly where the money is going to be spent.
This one appears to be more cut and dried as to what will happen. Even then, there’s no guarantee it passes. In fact, there has been one bond passed in Pleasanton in the last 25 years.
“It’s tough in Pleasanton,” said Petersdorf. “That’s a very classroom centric community. Those two schools have great coaches and great teams. You just want to have facilities that reflect the product you are putting out on the field.”