Paschal head volleyball coach Tim Reimann let his girls choose which venue they would play in against Arlington Lamar on Tuesday.
It was either the old gym, which holds around 300 people or the brand new, multimillion-dollar Gus Bates Center.
“We’ve played so well in the CTG, I gave the girls the choice,” he said. “Play in the old gym or open up the new gym and they thought about it for a minute, and decided to take our home-court advantage into a new place.”
Approximately 700 fans filed in to watch Paschal fall in the opening game but rally to beat Lamar 22-25, 25-12, 25-21, 25-23. Lamar was looking to sweep the season series while Paschal was trying to secure the second seed in District 4-6A.
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“We had a lot of support and probably had three times as many fans we’ve ever had from our old gym. It was awesome,” senior libero Abby Hyman said.
The Panthers improved to 27-10 and 12-2 in district with two games left. They still have a shot at the district title and No. 1 seed. They finish Arlington and Bowie while Martin, which is a game up, has Sam Houston and Trimble Tech.
After the game Lamar coach Heather Woodman told Reimann she was impressed by the gym.
“Heather said it was a great game and I think she enjoyed coming in here and we enjoyed hosting a team,” Reimann said. “It’s just nice to have proper facilities and to be able to host your middle school kids and all your teachers, students and parents. There are a lot of people that want to watch Paschal volleyball so it’s nice to be able to give them the proper setting to enjoy it.”
But this wasn’t an overnight discussion.
It started in 2010 when Kirk Jefferies – whose daughter was a freshman at the school – created the Paschal Enshrinement Foundation, a non-profit organization. His mission was to help improve facilities and create a better place students could take pride in.
It began with the football field at the campus.
“It was a dirt field surrounded by a prison fence so the parents took it upon ourselves to improve the facilities at Paschal,” Jefferies said.
Jefferies got the OK from principals and superintendents to build a new football field, and they soon raised nearly $750,000.
“It was a jumping off point,” he said. “Every school in FWISD saw the value and the school district stepped in and put turf fields at all the schools. FWISD told us to put that $750,000 into our next project, which was the gym.”
The Paschal Enshrinement Foundation raised nearly $2.2 million more to put into the Gus Bates Center. FWISD passed a bond package in 2017 to finish it off with another $3 million.
“We all came together – parents and alumni – because we felt it was a need for the community,” Jefferies said. “Nothing like this has been done and there were a lot of hoops to jump through. FWISD has been very helpful. It took a lot of time and work to make it happen.”
The center is named after the Bates family, who donated a portion to the facility. They have four generations of Paschal graduates.
It started with Gus Bates II in 1936. He went on to play football for the 1939 national champions Texas A&M. Gus Bates III, 1961, and Gus S. Bates, 1985, both graduated from TCU. They now own an insurance company in Fort Worth. Cooper, who was the quarterback last season, is a freshman at TCU.
“We are honored to have it be named after us, especially my dad,” Gus S. Bates said. “He was everyone’s youth football and baseball coach and he goes by ‘Pops’ now. But when Cooper was there, we were so involved with athletics. We certainly didn’t donate all of it; credit needs to be given to the others and especially Kirk. He did most of the heavy lifting and he needs to be recognized.
“We need to have great public schools in Fort Worth and hopefully this does a little part at Paschal to help achieve those goals.”
Added Gus Bates III, “We were at the game and it was so neat to see people come up to us and just tell us how much they appreciated it. It’s so nice to see new lockers for the kids, it warmed our hearts. I feel like now with the new facilities, they can compete with some of the inner-city kids.”
The building still has work to be done. There are new locker rooms, offices, film rooms and even a weight room too.
“It was amazing; everything we pictured it to be,” said Jefferies, who went to the JV game on Tuesday. “We couldn’t ask our middle school kids to come to our old gym – we had to turn people away because it would be too full. But now we can hold almost 1,000 people. It’s a huge impact for Paschal athletics and it creates pride in the community. Hopefully in the future we can host volleyball and basketball tournaments – it’ll be an event center – and now we can double up the size at our pep rallies too.”
Paschal will play one more home game Tuesday against Arlington Bowie.
“So amazing, it’s hard to believe it’s ours,” sophomore middle Megan Forrestal said. “We get to have so many people come out and support us, it felt great to have everyone here.”
“It’s finally here and it’s very exciting,” Hyman added. “It’s been a long time coming.”