Those who are planning to attend Western Nevada Community College baseball games next year may be wondering if they're going to have a place to sit. They don't have to wonder any more.
Then again, those who want to watch WNCC baseball may not want to wait too long to make sure that they're going to have a seat.
Thanks to a generous $50,000 donation from the Greater Nevada Credit Union, John L. Harvey Field will have 400 stadium seats when WNCC plays its inaugural season in its on-campus ballpark, beginning in 2006. The ballpark will be christened at 11 a.m. Sunday when WNCC opens its fall season against Lassen of Susanville, Calif.
Aaron Henry, a 2004 Carson High graduate, figures to be among the team's leaders and he will also have a chance to display his skills this fall. Henry has been chosen to play in the Scenic West Conference all-star series to be held Sept. 23 and 24 at Community College of Southern Nevada in Henderson. The series is for the Scenic West's top sophomores and is designed to a showcase for college coaches and pro scouts.
"That is just tremendous," said WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore about the stadium seats. "It's really going to be a nice finishing touch even though it's not a finishing touch."
WNCC pitching coach Dennis Banks has also kicked in, donating $10,000 for a press box. The press box and stadium seats will be in place for the 2006 regular season, which begins in February.
Whittemore credited the donation for the seats to WNCC vice president Helaine Jesse, who has spearheaded the effort to establish athletics at the school.
Whittemore said the school plans to begin selling tickets for the seats immediately. Season tickets at a price to be determined will be sold.
There will also be individual seats sold for the next 5-to-10 years at a price tentatively set at $1,000.
"They should go pretty fast," said Whittemore about the seats. "Carson's a great baseball community."
Future plans call for an indoor practice facility, locker room and coaches office and permanent concessions and restrooms. Whittemore said there will be temporary concessions and restrooms for the 2006 regular season.
He said those who want to attend Sunday's game need to bring their own refreshments as there will be no concessions. He did say that baseball caps and t-shirts will be sold.
WNCC is also looking for sponsors to buy 60-square-foot signs on the outfield fence at a cost of $1,000. So far 12 signs have been sold and the school hopes to sell 40 signs. Proceeds from the sale of the signs will go to the team's travel budget for the upcoming regular season, which will be $50,000.
The Wildcats can play up to 15 games this fall and have scheduled 12-13 so far. After opening with Lassen, WNCC will play the Reno Astros Sept. 16 and 17 at Moana Stadium. The teams will play at 7 p.m. Friday and then will play a doubleheader at noon Saturday.
Whittemore began with 70 players and has been able to cut his roster down to 35. The Scenic West allows for 26 players to travel, so Whittemore said he plans to cut his roster down to 28-32 players, allowing the rest to transfer to another school if they choose.
Along with Henry other local players on the current roster include Douglas High's Chad Walling and Jimmy Pierce, both infielders. The roster also currently includes 16 pitchers, 13 of who can throw 86 miles an hour or faster, Whittemore said. Whittemore said it's "scary" how well the team is coming together.
"It's a fantastic group of guys," Whittemore said. "Our strength is definitely going to be pitching."
Henry, an right-handed hitting outfielder with tremendous speed and a strong arm, is in the process of becoming a switch-hitter. "Aaron's doing a tremendous job," said Whittemore, who added he expects Henry to receive his share of scholarship offers.
Anyone interested in buying seat tickets or an outfield fence sign can call Whittemore, 445-3250.
Notes: Among the schools that WNCC competes with in the Scenic West is Dixie State of Utah and the Wildcats will also play the school in baseball. This will be the last year that Dixie State competes in the Scenic West as it plans to become a four-year school and to compete at the Division II level after this school year. Dixie State was the 2004 National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association champion in baseball.