Members of the Dakota Collegiate community are hoping a famous figure in high school sports can help them shoot for their dream of a new athletic facility for future generations.
On Thurs., April 24, Ken Carter will be the guest speaker at a fundraising dinner event that will be held at Canad Inns Polo Park (1405 St. Matthews Ave.) that will kick start the Alumni Field Capital Campaign for the proposed new facility.
Organizers say Carter will bring to the table his hard-hitting advice about accountability, integrity, teamwork and leadership, which he believes are necessary to succeed both on and off the basketball court. He will also visit the school earlier that day to speak with staff and students.
Carter, now a successful author and motivational speaker, was a basketball coach at Richmond High School in the U.S. who famously locked out his varsity boys’ basketball team to push them to improve their grades, as he felt the performance of certain team members in the classroom was not matching their achievements on the court.
The story was captured in the 2005 movie Coach Carter, starring Samuel L. Jackson.
Dean Favoni, head of Dakota’s math department and coach of the varsity boys’ basketball team, said the idea came about during a chance conversation with school alumnus Les Wiens, and is now tied in with the collegiate’s 50th anniversary celebrations in May.
He said during Dakota’s five-decade history, its successful sports programs have continued to grow and have yielded numerous league and championship-winning sides, yet Lancers teams in sports such as soccer, rugby and football are all forced to play their home games across the city.
"There’s a lot of land here, but a lot of it goes largely unused for games," Favoni said, noting plans for the new facility include an artificial turf field, stands, lights, a scoreboard, bleachers, a field house, a rubberized track and other amenities.
Robbie Mager, one of the school’s vice-principals, said plans for such a facility were previously discussed in 1992, but nothing came to fruition. He noted there is a 10-person steering committee for the campaign and that organizers have hired an architect who is currently drawing up plans, which will be unveiled at the April 24 event.
"We’re celebrating the last 50 years, who we are right now and looking forward to the next 50 years," Mager said.
Favoni said Carter’s mantra goes beyond any sporting achievements and hopes the famous coach will leave a lasting imprint on the community.
"Part of his message was that he wanted the kids he coached, beyond the basketball court, to become responsible young men in the community and contribute to society as helpful, productive individuals," Favoni said."
"Dakota has a significant sports history and to have such a facility will help bring this excellence forward for more than the next several classes that come through the building."
There are different levels of sponsorship available for the event. For more information, contact Samantha Turner at 204-256-4366 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.