RED OAK – Pride filled the air Tuesday with the dedication of the new Red Oak ISD Sports Complex on the grounds of the new Red Oak High School, which will open in the fall 2010.

Beginning at 5 p.m. and prior to the dedications, the public was treated to free hot dogs, chips and drinks as everyone had a look at the state of the art facilities.

Athletes appeared to be in awe of the baseball field, softball field and tennis courts.

“I love this. I have never seen anything like this in Red Oak. This doesn’t feel like our field,” said senior Lindsay McLin, who plays second base for the Lady Hawks.

Superintendent Scott Niven opened the dedication ceremonies as he welcomed city officials, the board of trustees, administration and school staff members and everyone else to the event. He praised the voters who in 2007 overwhelmingly voted to build the complex.

“This is just the beginning of more good things to come for the school and the community,” he said.

Mayor Alan Hugley also expressed his gratitude to the voters.

“Why did we build this? We built it because of what it does for our kids and the things they will learn here. They will learn teamwork, discipline, integrity and other life lessons,” he said. “They will learn how to be gracious when they win and how to be graceful when they don’t.”

School board president John Hawkins spoke on behalf of the board, saying, “I want to thank everyone for making this happen. This would not be possible without the support of the community.

“We have the finest facilities, the finest students, the finest staff, the finest administration and the finest city,” Hawkins said.

The first ribbon cutting was to dedicate the sports complex, with the tennis courts dedicated next.

“This is fantastic. We are so excited to have these courts and we cannot wait to start using them,” said tennis coach, Judy Ray.

Ray introduced the tennis team and high school principal Kevin Freels made the first serve at the tennis courts.

The Lady Hawks softball field was the next ribbon cutting, with the inaugural game between the Lady Hawks and Arlington Seguin scheduled to begin after the dedication. School board member Lynne Grandstaff threw out the first pitch at the field.

“Spectacular, wonderful, beautiful. We are in awe of this. When we were told they were going to build a new field, we never dreamed it would be like this. It is very nice and top notch. The kids are so proud of the field,” said Teresa Thibodeaux, Lady Hawks varsity softball coach.

The final dedication of the evening was at the Buddy Groom baseball field, named after the homegrown hero who pitched for 14 years with Major League Baseball. Groom, his wife Angela and their five children reside in Red Oak and, during the off-seasons from baseball, he made himself available to the community to sign autographs and speak to athletes about the importance of getting an education and remaining drug free. The Grooms also are active supporters of the the Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center in Waxahachie.

After the ribbon cutting, Groom threw out the first pitch as the varsity baseball team prepared to play the first game on the field against The Colony.

Varsity baseball coach Heath Autrey thanked voters and the bond committee for getting the bonds passed to build the complex.

“We and the kids appreciate Superintendent Niven, John Humphrey, Principal Freels and Chief (Scott) Lindsey for all they did to get the field ready for today,” Autrey said.

“I want to also thank the kids and the dads for their hard work in getting things ready and I want to thank the booster club for all the equipment they have provided us. I also want to thank Buddy Groom for being such a wonderful ambassador for baseball,” he said.

Being a hometown hero is a big responsibility and Groom is aware of that.

“It is an honor to have this beautiful field named after me. I feel it is something I have to live up to,” Groom said. “It is something to have your name on the scoreboard and I am proud and honored to be recognized here tonight.”

Athletic director Mike Burns said he is “very pleased” with the complex.

“This is so wonderful and we are so proud of these facilities. This is great for our kids and for our community,” he said.