Vic High kicks fundraising for new field/track into high gear

It’s been a long time since Olympians such as Bob Hutchison, Terry Tobacco, Bob McLaren and the late Cliff Salmond trained on the old Victoria High School cinder track under legendary coach Archie McKinnon. Or since Canadian national team soccer stars Brian Robinson and Ian Bridge and rugby legend Hans De Goede played on the stadium’s infield.

The push to rejuvenate the Vic High track and infield — the latter to be used by Bays United soccer — continues with a fundraiser Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Lawrie Wallace Auditorium at Vic High. It will feature a performance by retired University of victoria professor and physiologist Dr. Martin Collis, known for his witty and engaging presentations about sports, health, lifestyle and fitness that incorporate his musical skills as singer and guitar player. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

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The Vic High Sports Facilities Renewal Project is planned in five phases. First installed will be the artificial turf infield and night lighting, followed by a field house, eight-lane track and stadium seating.

The turf field and lighting are scheduled to open in two years. The entire build-out is expected to take up to six years.

The first-phase fund-raising target is $250,000, of which $205,000 has been raised through $100,000 from Bays United soccer and $105,000 through the seat-plaque initiative in which people can get their names put on the seat backs. Vic High and its alumni association are attempting to raise the remaining $45,000 by July 1. The City of Victoria will match the first $250,000 of the funds raised. That $500,000 total will allow the project to apply for federal grants.

“Athletics and sports promote healthy living and a healthy lifestyle while creating positive energy in the community,” said Vic High principal Randi Falls.

“We see this as beneficial for not only Vic High but also the entire Fernwood community.”

Collis attended the 1966 England-Germany World Cup final at Wembley Stadium and was assistant coach at the Santa Clara Swim Club when a rising young performer named Mark Spitz was on the team. A leading expert on wellness, Collis sees the spectrum of sport encompassing the elite down to the grassroots, where he now coaches the Saanich Fusion Over-35s soccer team.

“There is a huge need for kids to engage in physical activity for their personal health and wellness,” said Collis, who taught exercise physiology and human potential for 30 years at UVic.

“This [Vic High/Bays United] project encompasses all of that. It’s the little school that could . . . a pull-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of story.”

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