Turn 2 Foundation Donates $3.2 Million to KC
Money Will Renovate KC Baseball, Softball Fields
Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation announced it will fund the renovation of the baseball and softball fields at Kalamazoo Central High School. The project – valued at $3.2 million – will provide for completely renovated and reoriented fields, outfitted with new seating, new dugouts, and synthetic turf to increase player access.
The fund covers the entire redevelopment of the baseball and softball fields at the Derek Jeter Field Complex. The project was approved by the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education at its July 25 meeting.
Plans call for the project to open for bids this fall, with field construction to begin at the conclusion of the 2020 baseball and softball seasons. Tentative plans are for the project to be completed by late spring 2021.
Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Turn 2 Foundation will hold a press conference to discuss the project at 10 a.m. Friday, July 26, at the Kalamazoo Central Auditorium lobby. Speaking at the event will be a panel with Sharlee Jeter, president of the Turn 2 Foundation; Gary Start, interim superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools; KPS Board of Education President Patti Sholler-Barber; Kalamazoo Central Principal Valerie Boggan; and representatives from the project architect TowerPinkster and the construction manager CSM Group. Also attending will be Kalamazoo Central Athletic Director Dylan Patterson; Karen Jackson, executive supervisor of KPS facilities management; and representatives from the local office of the Turn 2 Foundation.
Miami Marlins part-owner and CEO Derek Jeter graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 1992 and went on to a stellar 20-year tenure as a shortstop with the New York Yankees.
“Growing up playing baseball in Kalamazoo is how I realized my passion for the game, and it’s where I began the road to pursuing my dreams of playing professionally,” said Derek Jeter. “This project is very special to me, and I’m excited to work with the community to create an environment that will inspire local youth to work hard to achieve their full potential and accomplish their goals.”
Jeter established the nonprofit Turn 2 Foundation in 1996 to help young people reach their full potential by fostering leadership development, academic achievement, healthy lifestyles and social change. The Foundation is run by Jeter’s sister, Sharlee Jeter, who was a softball standout at Kalamazoo Central.
“The revitalized baseball and softball fields will allow us to provide young people in Kalamazoo with a fantastic space where they can partake in constructive, healthy activities while learning valuable life lessons,” said Sharlee Jeter. “We’re proud to give back to a place that means so much to our family and the Turn 2 Foundation, and we are excited to work with the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education and the community on this incredible initiative.”
Gary Start, the KPS interim superintendent, said Turn 2 approached the district with the idea for the project. “We want to thank the Turn 2 Foundation for this generous gift, which will significantly impact future generations of our baseball and softball players.”
One of the key elements of the new fields will be a reorientation of their layouts, so the batters face the pitching mound in the northeast. This orientation will minimize the impact of low afternoon and evening sun angles on the players’ vision.
The baseball field will have a synthetic turf field with new sub-base and drainage system, while the softball field will have a new clay infield and synthetic turf outfield with sub-base and drainage system.
Both fields will include:
• New elevated aluminum grandstand bleachers
• New pre-cast concrete dugouts
• New galvanized fencing, backstop and foul poles
• New press boxes
The project costs also cover a new clay infield and natural grass practice field, handicap-accessible restrooms and handicap-accessible parking.