John O. Long Field gets new dugout thanks to Shikellamy Braves Foundation

Mar. 23—SUNBURY — Sunbury's John O. Long Field has a new home dugout for the Shikellamy Braves softball team.

The Shikellamy Braves Foundation, the city, coaches and parents of the team contributed to the construction of the new 32x18 dugout. It didn't cost the district a penny and will provide more space for the girls and coaches, officials said.

The group said more renovations are on the horizon.

"They all did a great job," said Councilman Jim Eister, who is in charge of Sunbury's parks and recreation. "We are thankful for everyone who was involved in making this happen."

Eister said the group knocked down the old dugout and construction began late last year.

Shikellamy Braves head softball coach Matt Slivinski, who spearheaded the project, said the final product came out great.

"Not too bad for a bunch of coaches and parents," he said. "This was all possible thanks to so many people who donated time and money and materials."

The field also received a new permanent outfield fence. Slivinski said he had the field leveled out, too.

The complex also has new batting cages that were installed last year, and a new press box that was installed in 2021 thanks to a donation by T-Ross Brothers Construction.

Officials from T-Ross Brothers said they had several conversations with the late Sunbury attorney Roger Wiest Sr., who died in 2021.

Ross decided to build the unit and dedicate it to the former community leader.

The Shikellamy Braves softball team, as well as several other teams from travel leagues, use the field on a regular basis, city officials said.

The old home dugout as well as the visitors dug out measured at 20x8. Slivinski said that made it tough for everyone to squeeze in during games.

Slavinski said the next improvements will be reconstruction of the visitors dugout and the grass at the field. But, he warned, new ideas come with costs.

Slavinski said several donors made contributions to the Braves Foundation for the construction of the dugout and he hopes to be able to raise enough funds to start the next phase of revamping the field this year.

He said the team loves the new dug out.

"Absolutely they do," he said. "Before, some of the coaches had to sit outside the dugout just to watch the game."

Slivinski said he is a "pacer" during games, so the new dug out will work out well for him.

"I walk back and forth a lot," he said. "So now there will be more room."