Vandalism incidents continue to plague the new Anthis-Brennan softball fields, just ahead of opening season.
The newly revamped Tahlequah Sports League made adjustments to accommodate the COVID-19 outbreak, but organizers are frustrated by the work of miscreants.
John Rozell, TSL director, went out to the softball fields at Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex to find they had been vandalized sometime after hours on May 28.
"It takes about a full day just to fix one field, and I have to catch them at just the right time or it dries out too much, and that makes it harder to get it fixed," Rozell said.
Coach Colton Krokroskia said this is an ongoing problem, and it's caused a setback, being this close to the first pitch.
"At Anthis-Brennan and Phoenix Park, there have been many hours put into making the baseball fields playable and safe for the kids in Tahlequah and the surrounding areas," said Krokroskia. "TSL and parties want to have a sports complex the community can be proud of, and it seems like every time they get the fields looking beautiful - or at least taking the right steps toward beautiful - they are set back by people who vandalize the fields after hours."
Most of the damage was done by foot traffic in the infield. It was evident the mess wasn't caused by people who were using the fields for practice.
"You can see there aren't footprints on or around home plate, and at some point, there's prints of bare feet over here. This one looks like some type of high heel or wedges on the field," said Rozell, indicating a certain set of prints.
Krokroskia said he wants to raise awareness in the community about what has been happening to the new fields.
"The youth season is a week away from starting, and kids will be able to have fun and learn about teamwork and growing as a person through sports. If this continues to happen during the season, it will be devastating to the kids, parents, and everyone involved," he said.
Rozell said the repair process will consists of nail dragging and screen dragging.
"It's about a four- or five-step process, and I'll spend about a day getting these fields back to being ready," he said.
Ward 4 Tahlequah City Councilor Trae Ratliff, who is also TSL president, pledged that no matter the amount of work still ahead, the fields will be ready for players and parents on June 8. Games will be played Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, with rainouts on Fridays.
Rozell and Krokroskia have asked for more eyes on the fields in hopes of putting a stop to the unnecessary extra work before opening day.
"Please, stay off of the field. Tahlequah community, please keep an eye open while driving past Anthis-Brennan. We would greatly appreciate it," said Krokroskia.