Coach Keith Adams said guests are steered far away from California School for the Deaf-Riverside’s football field during tours.
The Cubs made program history last season on a bumpy mess of grass and dirt. Lit by dim LED machines. In front of a set of concrete bleachers with a home capacity of about 150. The football team was the pride of CSDR, becoming a nationwide sensation — and they were embarrassed by their home turf.
“I grew up playing with a lot of big schools, on their fields, and [at] our school it was real grass, holes and dirt,” junior quarterback Trevin Adams said through a video interpreter. “It just kind of felt disrespectful, almost.”
Finally, the Cubs have earned their respect. One worth millions.
On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed funding for a complete overhaul of CSDR’s athletic facilities in a revised budget, a request through the Department of Education with a total project cost of $43.1 million.
After the Cubs’ 12-1 season — during which players took it upon themselves to champion the deaf community — the state took notice.
“The Cubs are California legends, through and through, and we’re going to lift them up, just as they lifted us up with their inspiring journey,” Newsom said via a spokesperson.
That grass sod will be uprooted, synthetic turf installed in its place. Permanent lighting will replace portable LED machines. The rickety bleachers will be overhauled to increase seating to around 800.
Junior Ricardo Terrazas, a lineman transitioning to wide receiver next season, said his reaction to the news was “complete shock.”
“I love the governor,” Terrazas signed through an interpreter.
Friday’s announcement didn’t come out of left field. Working with the state to secure funding has been a “master plan” that’s been in place for more than 20 years, according to superintendent Nancy Hlibok Amann.
Those years of inadequate facilities drove down community interest. Fans told coach Adams, he said, that they weren’t in the mood to come watch games because the field was so dimly lit. Senior citizens in the community couldn’t find a point in going, knowing they’d be forced to stand on the sidelines to get a good view.
“I feel like ours is probably one of the worst in the state,” Adams said of the field, via interpreter.
A new turf was overdue, the coach felt.
“The state definitely didn’t prioritize us, again and again,” he said. “We kind of got dropped to the bottom of the list.”
The spokesperson for Newsom didn’t speak on the timeframe of the school’s requests for funding, but said the Department of Education had been working with the Department of Finance for a couple of years on proposed improvements.
“We thought this is such a great thing to highlight, and the state is really putting dollars behind projects that really align with our values,” the spokesperson said. “This is one of those projects that really shows that, because of what this team was able to do in the fall.”
The improvements carry a bittersweet feeling for quarterback Adams and Terrazas, excited as they are. The two will graduate next season, well before the project’s estimated completion in 2026.
But they’re proud for the students coming after them.
“Wow, I wish I could play,” Terrazas said. “However, in the future, I plan on attending these games as a fan, because my heart is in this school. I was born and raised there — I bleed the school colors.”
The school spirit carries over to a wall in his house, which showcases two of his Cubs jerseys from previous teams.
“Our team has unfinished business,” he said. “We’re not done yet … I want a ring. So I’m thinking about that when I look at [the jerseys].”
It was an honor, Keith Adams said, that the government was recognizing his program. He’s looking forward to even more fans once the project is completed, unimpeded by a lack of seating and difficult lighting.
“What’s that movie?” Adams asked. “‘Field of Dreams’ — with Kevin Costner. If you build it, they will come.”