When kids take to the soccer pitch at the new Wellesley Township Recreation Centre, they’ll be doing so in a spot commemorating the life of another young resident who used to take part in minor sports.
One of the two soccer fields to be opened next summer will be known as Jack Lichty Field in remembrance of the Wellesley youth who died in 2020 at the age of 14.
Sarah and Dale Lichty say naming a field in their son’s honour was fitting given that Jack grew up playing sports in the township.
The idea was sparked by Dale’s sister, Rhonda Mainland, and her husband Brian.
“We all adored Jack, and Brian and I wanted to participate in the local community fundraising project – my girls were hockey players and soccer players, just like my brother’s boys,” she said of the naming opportunity. “We wanted to have a spot to permanently celebrate and remember Jack’s life.”
Before proceeding, however, she consulted with her brother’s family, finding a warm reception.
“My sister Rhonda approached me and said that they would like to do this, but wanted to ask us first. They were going to donate and would like to put his name on it – it was great to know that they were going to do that. We appreciated that,” said Lichty.
“This is kind of a nice way to have his name there, a little honour and way to remember him by. We were very appreciative and grateful.”
Mainland said she and her husband were keen to contribute to the fundraising drive for the new $27-million recreation complex now under construction. Making a donation in the name of her late nephew seemed an appropriate avenue to support the project.
“We’ve been involved in the community, and we’ve been here for a while. I grew up here and went to Wellesley Public School, and then got married, and I’m still here,” she laughed, noting Brian is a native of West Montrose.
“We wanted to give back to the community, as well, since we have participated and benefited from the community. We also wanted to have a permanent spot for Jack’s memory, so that’s how this all came about.”
In announcing the contribution, Chris Martin, chair of the Something for Everyone capital campaign, said he was grateful for the Mainland’s gift, adding he was touched when told it would be made in Jack’s honour.
“To know that for the next 50 years, children will be playing on ‘Jack Lichty Field’ made it incredibly special.”
The donation was indicative of the overwhelming community support for the new recreation complex, said Martin.
The campaign not only met its $2.5-million target, but surpassed it to the tune of $4.3 million, with the group Martin chaired eventually expanding the naming opportunities, including the $50,000 option for the soccer fields. Moreover, there are still contributions coming in, long past the official end of the fundraising period at the top of the year, when the tally was $3.9 million.
“The response has been amazing,” said Martin. “Now, we’re looking forward to opening, having people come in to check it out.”
The arena is slated to begin operations this fall.
Along with an NHL-sized rink, the 62,000-square-foot facility will include eight dressing rooms (two fully accessible), a dressing room for the Applejacks Junior C hockey team, The Wellesley Township Community Health Centre, a youth centre, seniors’ centre, a gymnasium that can serve as a community centre, meeting rooms, fitness centre, a walking track, and a commercial kitchen. The outdoor portion of the complex will also include a multi-use court, skateboard park, active outdoor play centre, two soccer fields and outdoor walking trails.