NWTC masonry students are helping a nonprofit build a field of dreams

Posted at 10:14 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 23:49:14-04

TOWN OF LEDGEVIEW (NBC 26) — At Scray Hill Park in the Town of Ledgeview, construction crews are busy making progress on two, new state-of-the art playing fields for De Pere Baseball.

"We wanted everything to be world class," explained De Pere Baseball President Jonathan Webb. "There isn't another complex like this within 100 miles of here."

The nonprofit organization, that serves 1,500 youth baseball players each year, spent years planning and fundraising to make the more than $2 million Mulva Family Fields project a reality. Webb said they're grateful for their many community partners who are pitching in to make their new facility top notch, that includes masonry students from NWTC. 34 students are constructing four dugouts at the ball park; two this fall and two in the spring.

"I honestly learn a lot more out here than in the classroom," said student Trevor Leroy. "I mean we get to build it in the classroom, but you don't get to leave it up. In the classroom, we knock it down everyday so this is nice."

For Leroy, pursuing a career in masonry, with the goal of owning his own business, is personal.

"It was my dad's dream and then he passed away, so then I just wanted to keep going for it, and that's what's pushing me to go for it."

From learning tool techniques to mixing mortar and laying cement block, the experience on a real work site develops more than just the students' hands-on skills.

"Sometimes they don't come with communication skills, so they have a lot of fine-tuning to figure out exactly with their soft skills, and this is really helping out that way," explained David Pryes, masonry instructor at NWTC.

As part of his class, Pryes also teaches his students the importance of using their talents to give back to their community. In this case, their in-kind donation of labor is saving De Pere Baseball a lot of money.

Leroy said, "It's nice to just give back, and then the kids can play out here and they're not going to have to pay a big fee at a sports place. It's just nice that it's going to stay up and anybody can come use it."

Through Pryes' connections in the industry, companies also provided building supplies at a discounted price or they were donated.

"We couldn't do this without having that community support to really make this thing go," said Webb.

For the masonry class, there's a sense of pride.

"So maybe they feel not only just helping out, but they're also putting a stamp on something they're going to see forever," Pryes said. "They can stand back and say, 'By the way, I built that,' and it's a pretty good feeling just saying that."

For Leroy, helping create this field of dreams is a first step in realizing his late father's dream.

"He'd be really proud, and just see what I'm doing, see me following in his footsteps or trying to achieve goals and that, he would love it."