Home / Community / Hank Hester Sports Complex gets new scoreboard and track, synthetic turf field to follow in 2023

Hank Hester Sports Complex gets new scoreboard and track, synthetic turf field to follow in 2023

By Ruben Lowman

Attending the Hank Hester Sports Complex at North Myrtle Beach High School is going to feel like a whole different experience than ever before for parents and fans of Chiefs athletics. 

The complex recently received a makeover and an upgrade, courtesy of the county school board and local parents and supporters of the athletic program who wanted to see it continue the steady progress and positive momentum achieved in recent years. 

A multi-million dollar scoreboard paid for by the school’s booster club has been installed for the football field and is up and running, and the track surrounding the field has undergone major improvements, including a resurfacing and repainting, giving the complex a new glossy sheen just in time for the beginning of the spring sports season. 

The scoreboard the school installed is a major step for the program, NMBHS Athletic Director Tony Heilbronn said, and he hopes the school can use it as a springboard to becoming one of the best programs in the state.

He said having a new synthetic turf field put in next year will help the school get even further along towards that goal, which is one of the key objectives the former Darlington boys basketball coach has in his new position with the Chiefs. 

“I think it’s an absolutely awesome accomplishment for our program to have something like that. Not too many schools in the state have them, let alone in the lower state,” he said. “So for us it just gives us another leg up in terms of facilities.”

North Myrtle Beach is not alone in receiving upgrades to its facilities, however. The county has undertaken improvements to the district in a series of three phases over the last several years, in order to ensure every athlete of the county’s nine high schools is able to compete on a level playing field, both literally and figuratively. 

One of the initial and biggest influences in carrying out projects converting eight of the district’s high school football fields to synthetic turf was that the grass fields of many of the schools experienced drainage problems that negatively affected key games in recent seasons, hindering their teams’ performances and in some cases costing them important playoff games.

The Chiefs were able to persevere through the conditions and win a 2018 playoff game against Wilson despite the field turning to what former head coach Matt Reel referred to as “muck” at the time due to intense rainy weather and nowhere for the water to run off into. 

The new synthetic turf field at NMBHS, which will be installed in 2023, will make sure that the team doesn’t have to endure a similar experience in order to advance in the playoffs. For Heilbronn, it’s also something that the school and its athletes can take pride in, giving them the confidence of knowing they can compete on the highest level with anyone. 

“With us getting that turf, about a year and a half from now, we’ll have a brand new track and turf field. We’ve got our lights that do their whole thing and then you throw the scoreboard on top of it, I don’t know any lower state facilities that you can say are definitively better than ours,” explained Heilbronn.

“So for us it’s a pride thing. We want to be the best of the best and to have facilities that are first-class is a way to start.” 

While NMBHS will have to wait a year to get theirs, Loris High School is projected to be starting the next football season with a new turf field as part of the third phase of the district’s facility improvements, with construction expected to begin as early as this week. Green Sea Floyds High School will also be getting their new playing surface installed in 2023 along with the Chiefs. 

Altogether, HCS Planning Coordinator Joe Burch said that the total cost of the projects for all eight schools will cost approximately $8.2 million. Additionally, the third phase of county improvements also includes upgrades to the tennis courts at NMBHS and LHS. 

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