KIPP Denver Collegiate High School kicked off the new school year with a soccer game to inaugurate the school’s new turf sports field, with alumni from graduating classes as far back as 2013 joining current students and staff to celebrate the new playing surface.
“This is a really big deal for KDCHS and I’m really glad that this happened,” said Marco, an alumnus from the class of 2013.
Aka Denjongpa, athletic director at KDCHS, said the new field represents a major improvement over the previous surface during opening remarks.
“A lot of this was built on the hard work of our alumni,” said Denjongpa. “When athletics first started here at KIPP Denver Collegiate, we had to travel to other fields to practice and play our games, which meant we never had home field advantage.”
That changed when students and alumni started to push for a better playing surface.
Students began advocating for improvements to the field by expressing concerns about the old field’s quality to their coaches. Their conversations evolved to include teachers and school leadership. At one point, students met with their representative on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education to illustrate the impact of the field’s conditions and to learn about what it would take for the district to make improvements.
Improvements to school facilities were made possible due to the bond and mill levy funding measures that Denver voters approved in 2016. The bond funds physical improvements including critical maintenance updates and expanding classroom technology for schools across the district. The Rishel campus, home to KDCHS, received approximately 1,420,000 dollars to improve its facilities.
“The field did not allow for our kids’ hard work and technical skill to shine through as it would on a turf field,” said Dejongpa, “The field was lumpy. It had pot holes and ‘dead areas’ that had to be avoided in practice and games.”
Despite the challenges KIPPsters faced in training for soccer, the boys soccer team managed to make it to the state tournament for three consecutive years, and the girls soccer team has qualified for the state tournament the past two years.
With the new field, KIPP Denver Collegiate will have the opportunity to expand its sports to create flag football, ultimate frisbee and possibly lacrosse. In the meantime, the space will lend itself to physical education practices for all three KIPP Colorado Schools in Southwest Denver.