By the spring, the Goldbacks Youth Program will have a regulation-sized football field to at the very least practice on.
The program, which had practiced at Cronomer Hill Park around the baseball field for about 20 years, started to outgrow that space and started practicing on the lower field at the New Windsor Little League complex that wasn’t in use.
Now, the league is in the process of building a regulation-sized field on the space where the 200-player-strong league can practice and play some games when its normal home field – Academy Field isn’t available.
“We didn’t have a lot of space,” said Goldbacks Youth Football President Rick Ceglio said.
In 2019, New Windsor Little League had a field that wasn’t used and last year, the baseball field was turned into a grass field. Ceglio said the league had a five-year plan to convert it into a regulation-sized football field.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and the program learned it would be unable to use Academy Field under the current guidelines, so the project at New Windsor Little League Park was accelerated.
Ceglio said 84 Landscaping donated a lot of time to get the field ready on time.
As of last week, the field had been scraped and is nearly ready to be seeded.
“Now, our next step is to hydroseed the field and hopefully when we’re ready to play, we won’t have to look at some other options,” Ceglio said.
Aside from work that was donated, many of the program’s Board of Directors have been at the field constantly to work on it.
Ceglio said Field Director Chad Wright has been taking his vacation time to make sure the field was being done properly, while Equipment director Brian Gallagher has also been there throughout the process, running machines and moving dirt.
“People say it takes a village and this really has,” Ceglio said. “We’ve had not only board members, but also parents have helped out and other companies have helped make it possible.”
Ceglio said the league’s parents have helped but not only signing their kids up for the league, but 200 people usually come to the program’s Comedy Night, which like many other events, was canceled this year due to the pandemic.
There has also been external help in the form of a sponsorship from Di Napoli Opticians in Newburgh. Ceglio said they not only gave a donation but also a little bit extra. The program also received a grant
“It’s huge and we understand that it’s a difficult time for everyone,” he said.
It’s unclear if there will be an Orange County Youth Football League season this fall as it takes its cue from the high schools. As of press time, football teams are only allowed to practice beginning Sept. 21 in no- to low-contact practices.
Should the league play at another point in the year, like the spring, the field will be ready and the Goldbacks could play there if Academy Field is not available.
Ceglio stressed, however, that this field is not meant to replace playing home games at Academy Field. It is to provide a larger practice location and to have a backup home site at a central location for a league that has 200 participants representing the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.
“For a youth organization, there’s no better feeling to play on the high school field,” Ceglio said. “It’s the best home field in all of Orange County.”