By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Once again, another member of the Bristol family has stepped up to make the lights on the football and soccer field a reality.
Bill Sweet, the coach and mentor of the Bristol Eastern boys soccer program for more than 40 years and long-time Bristol resident, donated $10,000 to improve the athletic facilities for Eastern’s male and female student-athletes.
The donation, which will be matched, will be used to fund the first phase of the Bristol Eastern Field Improvement plan; the installation of lights on an all-purpose field at the high school.
The new lighted field will not only make Bristol Eastern more competitive by maximizing resources, it will also enable games to be played later in the day so parents and other supporters can become more engaged with their children’s athletic pursuits.
The former English teacher at the school has seen his share of amazing and successful athletes on the soccer field but has also made vast impressions on some of his players who didn’t always see the spotlight.
In one such example, during 1983, coach Sweet was in his 10th year of coaching at BEHS.
He had a young athlete who may not have been the most gifted athlete, but was inspired by the coaching staff, and was motivated to carry on a tradition of strong work ethic.
That may not have translated in athletic awards, but certainly paid dividends in life rewards.
The athlete, who would like to remain anonymous, has gone on to be a very successful leader at a major brokerage firm in New York City and recently made a pledge of $10,000 in matching funds, “to spur others to donate to the BEHS Athletic Fund to build a complex that would help others learn the lessons of his soccer experience.”
And for Sweet, he knows exactly what improved facilities means to the school and its community.
“I love Bristol Eastern and wanted to do what I could to help improve the school’s athletic facilities, “said Bill. “My daughter Katie and son Adam both played various sports when they attended and I’ve coached so many wonderful players through the years- I know how beneficial athletics can be for both the individual and the community.”
Sweet also mentioned some facts about the benefits of scholastic athletics:
1. Athletes generally have better school attendance records, lower dropout rates, and fewer discipline problems.
2. Student-athletes generally have higher self-esteem and self-discipline than students who do not participate in sports.
4. A survey of Fortune 500 companies found that over 90 percent of corporate executives participated in sports during high school.
5. Students who participate in sports are more likely to graduate from high school and pursue higher education that students who do not participate in athletics.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, female high school athletes are:
1. 92 percent less likely to get involved with drugs
2. 80 percent less likely to get pregnant
3. Three times more likely to graduate than non-athletes
“This is an important step forward in improving Bristol Eastern’s sports programs and I encourage others to continue this positive momentum by visiting http://www.supportlocalstuff.com/behslights or http://goo.gl/8BsViI,” said Sweet.