The modernization of Sweetwater High School's athletic facilities has been an ongoing project for Shane Mobley, who is entering his third season as SHS head football coach and athletic director.
This year, the upgrades have continued with the addition of new stadium seating at historic Mustang Bowl. Reserved for season ticket holders, the new seats can hold up to 900 fans.
"I think once people get here, at 'Meet the Mustangs' after the scrimmage (Aug. 21 against Clyde), people will see the chairs, they will want to sit in them," Mobley said Thursday. "Some people have already stopped by to look at them and sit in them."
The fieldhouse â€” constructed over 30 years ago and once used predominantly as a football training facility â€” is being transformed into a more inclusive space for all sports and all athletes, male and female. Mobley said he felt it was time to catch Sweetwater's athletic facilities up with competing districts in the area.
"I coached here prior (2004 to 2008), then I went to Prosper and they had just passed a multimillion-dollar bond to build a new indoor facility," he said.
"After coming back here â€” this facility was built in 1982 â€”there haven't been a lot of renovations," Mobley continued.
"The first thing we did was replace the roof. It was pretty bad. Every time it rained, water would get into the big room. But the one thing I wanted to do was change this from a fieldhouse known for football to a sports facility. The girls in our athletic programs come here, lift weights, and they use the big room to do crossfit and things like that."
New equipment such as custom batting cages and nets for catching balls hit by student golfers have also been implemented at the fieldhouse, diversifying the usefulness of the building.
Fresh varsity lockers painted Mustang red await this year's players, while some much-needed improvements to the lavatories were also completed. New toilets replaced an old trough-style urinal. Outdated showers which leaked were refurbished.
"When it's said and done, it's all about the kids," Mobley added. "You want to make this as special to the kids as we possibly can. We want a place our kids can come and feel like they're home, something they can take pride in."
Both the boys and girls basketball and the volleyball shower rooms at the high school have received upgrades. Mobley said he would like to see a new gymnasium in the future, but a project that size would require that a bond be passed by the voters before work can begin.
The Mustangs play their first scrimmage at San Angelo Lake View on Aug. 15 and begin the regular season by hosting Lubbock High at the annual Sammy Baugh Classic two weeks later.