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MUHS boys get a kick out of building new dugouts

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School boys’ varsity soccer team is in the business of scoring goals.
But this year’s team wants to achieve an extra goal that doesn’t involve booting a soccer ball into the back of the net.
The squad and a dedicated group of adult volunteers have set a goal of equipping Fucile Field with two dugouts to accommodate home and visiting teams for soccer and lacrosse contests. And the student-athletes-turned-novice-carpenters are seeking donations to defray the costs of the lumber and other materials used in making the dugouts.
Former MUHS boys’ varsity soccer Coach Brett Weekes had planned to spearhead construction of the dugouts with the Eagle Scouts he led a few years ago. But he and his family somewhat unexpectedly relocated to Utah.
So it was looking like the soccer and lacrosse teams were going to have to spend yet another year with no dry place in which to stow their gear and seek shelter from the sometimes harsh elements during fall and spring sporting events.
But MUHS Athletic Director Sean Farrell reached out to soccer parents this past spring to gauge their interest in taking on the dugouts project. Among those who agreed to help with the venture were Christine McKeever-Parkes and Silvia Gonzalez, both of whom have sons on the varsity soccer squad.
“We just kind of dove into this,” McKeever-Parkes said with a smile.
“We wanted to make sure it got done this season,” Gonzalez added.
The parents found a capable and willing project coordinator in local contractor Earl Butler, a member of the MUHS class of 1978. 
Work on the dugouts got started this August, during preseason training. After sweating it out on the field during Saturday drills, the soccer boys shifted focus from their feet to their hands, carrying timber to the worksites, where they sawed and hammered under Butler’s tutelage.
Current boys’ varsity Coach Reeves Livesay and assistant Coach David Turner have also been active players in the project.
“We’d give a couple hours of work, break it into shifts,” said George McKeever-Parkes, a member of the varsity soccer team.
Santiago Fernandez, another Tiger soccer player, said the project has provided many benefits.
“We have a team of 23 kids, but don’t have a lot of team bonding time,” Fernandez said. “Preseason was also hustle, all work, and then we got to come out here and get to know each other, build something with Earl and have a lot of fun.”
The dugouts, both of them 8 feet by 16 feet, were more than half completed as the team convened for practice Thursday afternoon. School officials will paint the structures at a later date.
“Everything was positive,” Butler said of the collaboration among students on a project that benefitted from great weather. “There was a little razzing, but you could tell they are a close unit.”
Unfortunately, there is no money in the school budget to help pay for the dugouts. That means the soccer boosters will need to hold fundraisers — such as a recent car wash — to come up with around $5,000 to pay for the materials. Organizers will also reach out to local service groups — such as the Lions, Rotary and Legion — to see if the dugouts might be eligible for some financial aid.
Anyone interested in contributing should make their checks out to “MUHS,” listing “dugouts” in the memo line.
Players are pleased to contribute to a project that will also benefit future MUHS teams. And years from now, members of the 2016 Tiger soccer squad will know they left a little extra out on the field.
“It was great teamwork,” George McKeever-Parkes said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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