It’s been a lot of work, but the Saugerties Athletic Association has just about finished building new dugouts at three ballfields at the Cantine Field.
“It’s taken three years and the volunteer efforts of 68 residents, and numerous donations in material and money, to make these a reality,” said John Winters, SAA director and chair of the dugout project.
One of the biggest donors was Kingston Block, which donated all of the cinder blocks used to construct the six dugouts. Local masons, contractors, carpenters and just folks looking to come out and help donated their time to bring the project to fruition. “It was an amazing effort,” Winters said.
The SAA, along with the American Legion, Little League, Babe Ruth League and AYSO (American Youth Soccer Association), all raise money to keep the fields their teams play on in top shape at no cost to the taxpayer. The entire dugout project cost about $20,000.
Since 1968, the SAA has been one of the main sponsors of Saugerties sports programs and improvements at Cantine. Greg Chorvas, SAA treasurer and town employee in charge of Parks and Buildings, said currently the association runs the men’s and women’s adult softball program, men’s, women’s and co-ed volleyball program, and the youth (Biddy) basketball program.
While many municipalities are spending taxpayer dollars to operate recreation leagues, and pay a recreation director, Saugerties operates using donations and volunteers.
Little League, Babe Ruth, Legion, AYSO and youth football all run their own leagues. However, many of those programs got their start through the SAA. The association acts as an incubator for newer sports programs.
In addition to paying for improvements to many of the sports fields, the SAA also makes donations to the Relay for Life, the United Way, and the Children’s Annex, Chorvas said.
“We donate back to the community about $4,000 each year,” Chorvas said.
It’s the money from the SAA that makes the Cantine Sports Complex one of the premier sites in the Hudson Valley. “We use just about the same type of dirt on our infields that major league teams use,” Chorvas said. The dirt, brought in from a farm and quarry in central New Jersey, just has a little less clay in the mix than pro fields have, he added.
One of the biggest donors was and is Ernie Fick, for whom one of the fields at the sports complex is named. Each year, Fick would donate $6,000 to the SAA and his estate continues to do so. “Ernie had a heart that was pure gold and always helped us out,” Winters said.
Chorvas added that the Saugerties Kiwanis Club, which operates the ice rink and the youth and adult ice hockey programs, also makes a substantial donation to the SAA.