The Cushing Memorial Athletic Fields
After a long wait, spring is finally here. With the warmer weather, we are once again mindful of how fortunate we are to have such beautiful fields for our kids to play on. The foresight and generosity of our founders provided almost two and a half acres of open land in the middle of Locust Valley for the enjoyment of future generations. Over more than six decades, these fields have been a wonderful place for kids to run, to play and to have fun.
In the late 1940’s, when local citizens came together to create a Boys Club in Locust Valley, donations poured in but finding land with space for both athletic fields and a club house was the biggest challenge. At first, they thought their prayers were answered when Mr. and Mrs. Hunt Dickinson offered to donate 6 acres, but zoning laws prohibited the building of a club on the property. Within a year, Mrs. George F. Baker of Peacock Point offered to help. In memory of her son Grenville, Mrs. Baker donated the funds needed to purchase land on Forest Avenue and Weir Lane and to build a clubhouse there. By December of 1950, Grenville Baker Boys Club was built and dedicated.
According to founding member Pat Eliseo, the overgrown expanse behind the Clubhouse was lovingly known to local boys as “Rats Stadium” because of the many field mice who called it home. By 1959, the acres (and mice) had been cleared out and the athletic fields landscaped under the direction of Jim MacDonald, owner of M&A Landscaping. The fields were dedicated to Charles G. Cushing and funded by his friends’ generous donations in his memory.
From those early days until today, the Cushing Memorial Athletic Fields have seen countless practices and games of football, baseball, softball, soccer and more. They have been an invaluable resource for our Club’s fitness and sports programs, as well as special events such as barbeques and Day for Kids. The fields have been shared with numerous other organizations such as the Locust Valley Bayville Soccer Club, the Bayville Baseball League, several local softball teams, and more.
The Club takes great pride in the care given the fields by our athletic and maintenance staff. We feel incredibly blessed, knowing how rare it is for a Boys & Girls Club to even have athletic fields. Last weekend, the Club was fortunate to have some hardworking volunteers from Old Navy come to assist our athletic staff in our annual spring field clean up. After a stormy winter, there was plenty of debris to gather and remove. Our staff was then able to groom the softball and baseball fields, laying down the lines, the pitching mound, and base paths in preparation for the season.
As we saw Friday, our fields are used for more than athletics. Our very own Keystone Club had a special event on the field to celebrate unity and tolerance in our community. As part of a national Keystone initiative, the teens put their heads together to design and construct a community art project to represent their “United We Stand” theme for 2018. After working with representatives from the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, Club member Alex Thorpe created the concept of a multi-colored yarn web to represent peaceful co-existence and tolerant understanding for all people. Poles representing different human traits were planted in a circle with a different color yarn tied to each. The yarn was then extended across the circle by Keystone members, each intertwining with the other to symbolize how we are all unique but connected in many different ways.
As our Club kids enjoy playing on our athletic fields this spring, we will have occasion to look back and to celebrate our Club’s history and all the many generous folks who worked together to bring us here. We will also keep the sentiment of our Keystone project in mind, looking ahead with hope to a new season for our young athletes and our community.