Former Denver Public School (DPS) principal George W. Wyatt would be delighted to hear his high-energy students playing on a newly installed futsal hard court on the campus that is named after him.
Wyatt served as the principal of the campus and school building from 1913-1932. His namesake red sandstone, terra cotta, and brick stately school is located on the corners of East 36th Ave and Franklin in Denver’s Cole neighborhood, which is coincidently named for another DPS historical figure: Carlos M. Cole. Within the school system, Cole is known for creating many of Denver’s first middle schools.
Today, the Richardsonian Romanesque building constructed from 1887-1889 overlooks a state-of-the-art outdoor mini soccer pitch that was recently constructed on a hard top playground area in partnership with the Colorado Rapids, U.S. Soccer Foundation, and Target Corporation.
The court was unveiled on February 10th, however, due to safety precautions surrounding COVID-19, the mini-pitch was unveiled virtually on ColoradoRapids.com.
The initiative to build urban-located mini-pitches is part of a greater vision conceived by the U.S. Soccer Foundation: “We want every child to have a safe place to play right in their neighborhood. It’s why we’re committed to creating 1,000 new mini-pitches by 2026. Mini-pitches are ideal for urban areas and other communities where finding a safe place to play can be difficult. These small, customized, hard-court surfaces are perfectly suited for organized soccer programs and pick-up games.”
Target has pledged $6 million to create 100 mini-pitches in communities across the United States. The first were dedicated in Houston, Texas, during the spring of 2018. Since then, they have been constructed in Atlanta, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, St. Paul, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.
The Wyatt mini-pitch is the third mini-pitch the Rapids have built with partners in greater Denver. A 54-foot by 120-foot playing field was laid out at the Suncor Boys and Girls Club in Commerce City, ahead of the 2015 MLS All-Star game that was held at nearby Dick’s Sporting Good Park. There is also a mini-pitch at Ricardo Flores Magon Academy just north of Denver’s Regis neighborhood that was built in partnership with MLS Works.
The newest pitch aims to provide an underserved neighborhood with a safe place to play soccer and for children to recreate and develop their fitness during recess periods, as well as after school, on weekends, and certainly during the long summer break.
“It is huge and so exciting for us to be a recipient of a mini-pitch this year. Soccer, as we know, is something that unites people and unites our community and our kids and our families and so having this soccer pitch is really a beautiful symbol of our community and all that it means to really bring a community together,” said Kate Mishara, Executive Director at Wyatt Academy.
Wyatt’s field is enclosed with a gated fence that is enveloped with color-rich banners. Adjacent to the court is a series of kids’ height player benches. Both goal nets are made with durable chain links to keep Jonathan Lewis rocket-like shots on goal from bursting through the netting. The playing surface is a synthetic acrylic overlay similar to what children play on at outdoor basketball and tennis courts.
“This is a great day for the kids in the Cole community,” said Caitlin Kinser, Colorado Rapids Senior Director of Community Relations and Youth Programming. “We’re very grateful to the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Target for all their support to make this possible. These mini-pitches have a tremendous impact in their communities and we’re excited to see them continue to grow.”
Kinser informed the Burgundy Wave that the mini-pitch is only open to Wyatt Academy students during the school days (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Thereafter, it’s open to the broader community outside of school hours. “As for clinics, we will definitely be looking to hold a few once it’s safe to do so with both students at the school and kids in the community,” she added.