Board gives OK to naming ‘LaPorte Field,’ ‘Dave Rider Center for Athletic Performance’

Published 5:31 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

 Two Elizabethton City Schools athletic facilities were given formal names in recognition for contributions to the system during Thursday night’s regular Board of Education meeting.

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 The board approved the school system’s acceptance of a $400,000 gift agreement with the not-for-profit Citizens Bank Tri-Cities Foundation Ltd., and in appreciation the donation will designate the field at Citizens Bank Stadium as “LaPorte Field.” The donation will be used toward construction of the high school’s fieldhouse complex.

 “We want to say a special and a heartfelt ‘thank-you’ to the LaPorte family and Citizens Bank Trustees Foundation,” Director of Schools Richard VanHuss said. “Their support for our school system in a financial way over the last 10 years, and really beyond that as well, has just been unprecedented for our community, and we’re just so thankful and blessed.”

 VanHuss pointed to previous projects aided by the LaPorte family that included the stadium, band room construction, and rubberizing the Elizabethton High School track and estimated “well over $1 million” has been given to the system through those donors.

 The board also approved the naming of the new athletic training building on the high school campus as “The Dave Rider Center for Athletic Performance.” The $3.75 million training facility is a complex that is separate from the main structure at the high school. It will be connected by an open-air canopy and include a 30-yard-by-30-yard section of artificial turf, an auxiliary gymnasium with a basketball court that can also be used for volleyball and other activities, and a new weight room that is larger than the one currently used underneath the visiting bleachers at Treadway Gymnasium.

 The facility is being named for legendary EHS football coach Dave Rider, who died Dec. 20, 2020, at the age of 82.

 “When you think about athletics and Elizabethton, certainly since the mid-’70s when he arrived in Elizabethton, his name has been synonymous with Elizabethan High School, the Cyclones and football program, as well as his time as athletic director, and really helped put our school and athletic department on a trajectory to see the success that we have across the programs today.”

 VanHuss said Rider “had a tremendous impact on me as an individual.”

 “He had that unique combination and ability to hold you to a high standard, but yet at the end of the day you knew that he still loved and cared about you,” he said.