Conn. softball catcher was tired of run-down facilities, so she built new ones herself

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

When the time came for Tori Lussier to plan and complete a senior project, the softball star knew what she needed to do: Improve the team's field and dugouts. Or, essentially give them a field and dugout after years of playing on what was essentially a large grass field with a backstop and fencing.

Lyman catcher Tori Lussier — Twitter
Lyman catcher Tori Lussier — Twitter

The results, as documented by the New London Day, are pretty inspiring. Over the course of a summer, the Lebanon (Conn.) Lyman Memorial High senior planned and built two near-professional grade dugouts. She improved the field surface. And to pull it all off, the teen raised $35,000 in contributions and organized 25 different volunteers to help build the improved dugouts and completely resurface the field.

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Lest anyone think all Lussier did was organize the event, there's this important detail to consider: Lussier mixed cement for the dugout construction herself, working in the hot August sun with her father to help build the permanent structures, which come complete with hooks for player equipment built into the solid concrete walls.

"I had the idea," Lussier told The Day. "I brought it up with [Lyman athletic director Scott Elliot]. I had to ask sponsors, get donations from companies. My dad's actually a mason. He supported me really well. Me and my dad were up here every day for hours and hours. I got to pour concrete, a lot of labor stuff. I left my hand print in some cement.

"I liked coming up here every day. ... Me and my dad are pretty close. I used to work with him on side jobs a lot."

That experience clearly paid off, with Lyman likely to reap the rewards of Lussier's commitment for years to come. Where the school's former field used to gather puddles of rain around third base and behind home plate, it now showcases clean, perfectly draining grass and field dirt.

The facility is a fitting site on which a two-time league all-star catcher who has helped lead her school to two league titles in her first three seasons can successfully close out a sterling career. If Lussier wins a third title in four years, the debate might be over which legacy she leaves behind is more impressive: The one on the field or the field itself.

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"I didn't really appreciate how much work she did until I saw her presentation," Lyman softball coach Gary Hoyt told The Day. "She's been here for four years. She wanted to leave her mark and she has. ...

"It's fantastic. Not a puddle anywhere. I can't wait 'til it rains."

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