The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Gonkplex Progress

Delays impact fall sports, but community celebrates improvements
Junior+quarterback+Liam+Snyder+carries+the+ball+down+the+field+as+teammates+block+Marlborough+defenders+during+the+Football+game+on+Oct.+14.+The+game+was+played+at+Shrewsbury+High+School.
Betsy Bertonazzi
Junior quarterback Liam Snyder carries the ball down the field as teammates block Marlborough defenders during the Football game on Oct. 14. The game was played at Shrewsbury High School.

Despite Gonkplex construction delays and outdoor fall sports having to play most of their home games away this season, students are excited to utilize each phase of the new complex. 

Since the start of the 2023-2024 school year, several Gonkplex features such as the pickleball and tennis courts, as well as the multipurpose field and most recently the track have been opened to the public. Gonkplex is projected to be completed in full by the 2024 spring sports season with new turf, fields and bleachers. 

Principal Sean Bevan reported on Nov. 8 that construction on the stadium field and track, including the rubberized coating and lines, has been completed and the area is now available for informal use. The grandstands are in progress and are anticipated to be completed by Nov. 20. 

In addition to the stands themselves, an elevator and press box are included in the project. The previous grandstands offered no accessible route to get up to the press box and had no ramping, so if someone had mobility concerns, they had to sit on the track. The new grandstands will be fully American with Disability Act (ADA) compliant, and Bevan looks forward to creating a more accessible school community through ramps and walkways.

“We believe deeply in the ability for all members [of the school community] to be able to access all of our facilities,” Bevan said.

Although grandstand construction faced delays due to supply chain issues, Bevan said this is to be expected for most renovation projects whether or not on this large of a scale. He feels most adults in the community are excited the project has remained relatively on track with the original timeline, while less patient due to the fact they experience more inconveniences related to the ongoing construction. 

I believe the school community acknowledges that the project’s long-term advantages outweigh any short-term hurdles we’ve encountered,

— Director of Athletics Mike Mocerino

“The larger community recognizes that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Bevan said.

Algonquin students look forward to various aspects of this multi-million dollar project. According to a Harbinger survey of 128 students from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22 through Google Forms, 33% are most excited for the new track and 21% are looking forward to the larger turf fields. However, many were frustrated by the impacts delays have had on fall sports.

Most of the teams involving field sports had to play off site for much of the season. The cross country team had to alter their course as they were unable to run through the traditional woods course and instead ran in between the soccer fields. While this was an inconvenience, runners and students overall indicated in the survey that they remain understanding that any delays were out of the school district’s control.

Director of Athletics Mike Mocerino has received consistently positive feedback throughout the project even in light of the delays.

“I believe the school community acknowledges that the project’s long-term advantages outweigh any short-term hurdles we’ve encountered,” Mocerino said in an email interview.

One of those challenges has been scheduling sporting events.

“Our boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer teams have sought alternative high schools to host their home matches, [prior to the opening of the multipurpose field],” Mocerino said. “Our field hockey team had the New England Baseball Complex as their home venue [prior to the opening of the multipurpose field]. The varsity football team has found a temporary home at nearby high schools, notably Westborough and Shrewsbury [high schools]. Our JV1 football team is scheduled for all away games throughout the season. Lastly, our boys’ and girls’ cross country teams have had to modify their course.”

While some sports teams are still playing their home games off campus, one significant achievement thus far in Gonkplex construction was the opening of the multi-purpose field. The field opened on Oct. 10 with the boys’ varsity soccer team’s first game on the new turf. Since then, other teams have been playing on the new field, including the varsity field hockey team, who was able to have their first home game at Algonquin since 2015.

“We have a lot more opportunities for equitable distribution of our resources,” Bevan said. “I think of people like our field hockey players who haven’t played a game or a practice on our campus in eight or ten years and they’ll [now] be able to play here every day.”

Mocerino believes sports teams having to play at alternate locations for a significant portion of the season has had an impact on student morale.

“Playing games at a neutral site for our home games makes it tough to gather home crowds and students’ support,” Mocerino said. “Having to use other high school fields to maintain a semblance of normalcy has its benefits, however, it’s still not the same as playing at Algonquin!”

Sophomore Jillian Belniak, who participates in soccer and spring track and field, said the Gonkplex establishment impacted her sports experiences at Algonquin. Students have been utilizing the courts and fields as soon as they became available, which has a positive impact. 

“I have seen a lot of people playing pickleball [on the new courts] which is good for socializing,” Belniak said.

Student athletes have enjoyed being able to play and practice at home on the new multipurpose field for the final portion of their season, but some have reported turf burns as they have gotten used to playing on a new surface.

“If you have open wounds, get them treated; don’t let them sit,” senior Jack Cheney, who got turf burns on both arms while playing football, said.

The renovation of the courts and fields has long term benefits but it is difficult for some athletes and fans to remain patient without a true home field. 

“I haven’t gone to any home games [hosted at Westborough High School] for the reason of a lack of student spectators,” Belniak said.

Junior Benjamin Kahn looks forward to new grandstands, facilities and fields as a spectator at games. However, he is also one of many who wishes some of the funds were used to benefit the arts program.

“The Gonkplex is definitely a benefit to the school overall; however, I think there are better ways for all that money to be spent,” Kahn said. “Some of the money put into the fields could have been used to refurbish the auditorium.”

According to the Harbinger survey, 23% responded that they are looking forward to an amphitheater, which is slated to primarily host arts and musical performances. 

Bevan shared he has been looking to the senior class for guidance on how they want to celebrate the phases of the Gonkplex opening. Already, the Class of 2024 Steering Committee hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and a pickleball tournament to commemorate the opening of the courts on Oct. 1. 

Senior Class President Renee Gauthier, Vice President Cole Gowdy and senior Riya Mahanta collaborated with Bevan to make the opening on the pickleball courts memorable. 

“I’ve been asking our seniors for help [planning how to celebrate Gonkplex openings],” Bevan said. “I want to give them the agency and the opportunity to steer some of that. For example, with the pickleball and tennis courts, they [Senior Steering Committee] were the first ones who were physically allowed to go on the courts.”

The Class of 2024 will have fresh fields to graduate on and Algonquin will have a new environment to call their home by the spring. 

“It will be really nice to graduate on new fields,” Gauthier said. “It is extra special because we have been Mr. Bevan’s first class… so it’s nice to see how things have come together.”

Updated Nov. 10, 2023: reporters added changes for the article to be more timely for the Harbinger print issue, article has been updated online to match.

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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

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About the Contributors
Amelia Sinclair, News Editor
Amelia started as an assistant news editor during her freshman year. Beyond journalism she loves walking, swimming, traveling and cooking.
Lila Shields, Recruitment Manager
Lila joined journalism her freshman year and has continued to enhance her knowledge when it comes to literature. Currently she is the assistant editor for opinion. She is the secretary for the class of 2025 and is fond of leadership positions. Some of her hobbies include reading poetry, listening to music, nature walks and watching horror movies.
Betsy Bertonazzi, Assistant Photo Editor
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