CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
KINGSLAND — Zane Lewis remembers as a youth avoiding bad habits because of the advice of his coach.
“My coach told me if I started smoking that I wouldn’t be able to run as fast, and I wouldn’t be able to breathe, so I didn’t smoke because I really enjoyed boxing,” Lewis said. “Coaches have a big impact on kids’ lives.”
To cultivate the same positive atmosphere for Kingsland youth, a group of parent volunteers and a local church have combined forces to launch an effort to build a sports complex, with a football practice field as the foundation, in the community.
Lewis — the senior pastor at The Hill Church in Kingsland and a parent volunteer with the Hill Country Youth Football League — is spearheading the effort.
“Becoming involved this year and watching the coaches teach them the game, I just realized there is a competitive disadvantage for our boys not to have a practice field,” Lewis said. “Our kids deserve an opportunity to have a field and play.”
The regional football league is comprised of the communities of Bandera, Blanco, Fredericksburg, Kingsland, Llano and San Saba and includes youth ages 5-12. Kingsland has about 65 athletes participating.
Without a field to call their own, the Kingsland team has hosted its home games in Llano and Marble Falls for the past two years.
Lewis’ church has offered seven acres of land, located at 136 Real St., for the first phase of the sports complex effort that includes the practice field and upgrades to an existing basketball court.
Donations from the community will pay for amenities and upkeep.
“Our church owns the property, so all donations will be made to the church, and you’ll receive a receipt for the donation and that is tax-deductible,” he said. “The church will also maintain the field and make sure it remains in good working conditions.”
The first phase is estimated to cost $60,000 for practice field turf, which can also serve as a soccer field, and renovations and lighting at the existing basketball court.
“This will have an impact on our kids but also the economy, simply hosting these games right here,” he said.
The Kingsland Yellowjackets, the team on which Lewis’ son plays, recently sealed a playoff spot for a tournament on Oct. 24 in Fredericksburg.
Whether they win or lose, Lewis said support for the proposed sports complex would symbolize an even bigger victory for the community.
“I think it’s a little bit bigger than football. I think it’s people in Kingsland realizing our kids deserve an opportunity to play and have fun and get involved in more than some off the trouble around here,” he said. “There are several studies that prove that kids who get involved in sports are 70 percent less likely to get into criminal activity.”
As part of the community fundraising effort, MAS Floral, 105 Wood Forest Road in Kingsland, is donating proceeds from its second annual Halloween Bash.
“Here in Kingsland, there’s only a baseball field. There’s nothing that’s free for our children to be able to just go play,” said MAS Floral manager Katie LaValley. “We’re really glad to help. We want to see the community and the children thrive.”
The Halloween Bash is 7-9 p.m. Oct. 31 at the business and features a scary hayride, a bounce house, a cake walk and other Halloween carnival activities.
Lewis invites those who can’t attend to offer funds, equipment and services directly to the project.
“This is about the church and the community coming together to realize we’re on the same page, and we want to provide opportunities that aren’t being provided right now,” he said.
Make donations for the Kingsland sports complex effort to The Hill Church, P.O. 1191, Kingsland, TX 78639.
For more information, call Lewis at (214) 952-9763.