South Walton exploring upgrades to athletic facilities

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The new South Walton County Sports Complex is set to open in October.

Funds have been approved for athletic facility improvement.

Sometime in the next few years, South Walton High School teams may be dressing, practicing, and playing at upgraded facilities on their own campus.

With the support of the Walton County school board and superintendent Russell Hughes, SWHS athletic director Phil Tisa is looking into resigning and/or expanding the school's sports facilities.

The project is driven partly by enrollment. In recent years, the county and school's numbers have increased, necessitating a classroom addition. Their sports offerings have also grown, becoming one of the first high schools in the region to add girls lacrosse in 2017.

Funds have been approved. The next step is figuring out what exactly to do with them.

"You can go out and see surveyors around our campus plotting out what our footprint is and what we're able to do," Tisa said. "The architects are behind the scenes working on designs. We've also brought in members from the different sports teams that will be affected and need these facilities to get their input on how we can help them. Baseball to softball, to soccer, to lacrosse, to football, to band."

Another force spurring the project is the geographical challenge facing the school since it opened in 2002.

"Some of our issues deal with drainage because we're built in a low lying area," Tisa explained. "Raising our fields is a top priority for us. Also meeting the needs for locker rooms. Sports like lacrosse and soccer that have been either added or have doubled in size to include more teams."

Tisa added that while there isn't a concrete timetable for the project, they're currently brainstorming designs.

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