The Foundation Academy football program took the field at its new, on-campus facility May 11 for its spring intrasquad scrimmage.
As Foundation Academy junior Warren Sapp II walked off the field last Friday, he had to admit the grass beneath his cleats felt pretty right.
“It feels great — everything about this is great,” Sapp, a standout defensive lineman for the Lions, said with a smile. “We’re all excited.”
Foundation Academy’s football program, a longtime tenant of Winter Garden’s Walker Field, had just played its “blue-and-white” spring scrimmage on its new, on-campus field. Although there is still plenty of work to be done on the facility — including permanent bleachers, the concession stand and bathrooms — the afternoon scrimmage, which lasted about 90 minutes, was a milestone for a program that is excited to play actual home games this fall.
“The field is in great condition … it should be a great venue for us,” Lions head coach Brad Lord said. “Walker Field has been good for us, but I know our kids are excited to finally play home games.”
The milestone is significant for a campus community that has invested significantly in — and exercised patience for — the school’s new athletic complex on its South Campus.
Hurricane Irma thwarted earlier hopes that games might have been played on it during the fall of last school year, and when the field neared completion at the beginning of 2018, school officials opted not to play any soccer games there in favor of giving the sod more time to firmly settle.
As evidenced by players’ ability to plant and change direction during the scrimmage, the sod has settled in nicely. And although the facility has not been fully completed, Lord said he already can envision what home games on a Friday night will mean for the campus community.
“You go to different schools, and their sports complex is sort of the heartbeat of the school,” Lord said. “It’s where the kids work out, where they hang out, where they make friends, build relationships with coaches and get better. That’s what our vision is here and we’ve been blessed here at Foundation.”
There is still plenty of time for progress to continue on the new facility before the Lions take the field for an official game, too. Foundation Academy President David Buckles said the school has ordered the first phase of its bleachers for the inaugural season. It will have bleachers in place to seat 300, with ensuing phases planned that will increase that capacity over time.
Foundation Academy will play its annual spring game at Lake Highland Prep in downtown Orlando May 17 and open the fall season with a kickoff classic game at Orlando Christian Prep Aug. 17 and a road game in Week One at Cambridge Christian Aug. 24.
As is currently scheduled, the official debut of the new field will take place Aug. 31, when Foundation Academy hosts Kingdom Prep.
Renovated weight room a plus for Lions
The scrimmage debut of the Lions’ new football field is not the only exciting facility-related news at Foundation Academy.
The school is upgrading its playground at its North Campus with artificial turf and new equipment, and more pertinent to the athletics program, the existing weight room at the school’s South Campus has received a significant facelift.
Located within the Leiferman Family Gymnasium, the weight room has been renamed the Lumpkins Family Strength and Conditioning Center to recognize the generosity of the Chip and Luanne Lumpkins, who made the donation.
The renovation included new equipment and aesthetic branding elements, and already it has been a big hit.
“They redid it, and the kids are excited about it,” Foundation Academy football coach Brad Lord said. “We got two new (weight) racks, so we’ll get done quicker than we have been — it’s beautiful.”
Buckles said this was not the first generous donation by the Lumpkins family, which also has donated money for projects such as providing Chromebook laptops for the school’s teachers.
“What they see is the possibilities of Foundation Academy,” Buckles said. “This is a family that believes in the vision of Foundation Academy — athletically and academically.”