Field House Project Gus Bates Center
The Paschal Enrichment Foundation raised nearly $3 million for a new gym.
Paschal High School debuted the new Gus Bates Center in late 2018.
After years of playing in the Charlie Turner gymnasium where it could hold 300 people, Paschal easily doubled that when it opened the Gus Bates Center.
This wasn’t an overnight project. It started in 2010 when Kirk Jefferies – whose daughter was a freshman at the school – created the Paschal Enshrinement Foundation (PEF), a non-profit organization. His mission was to help improve facilities and create a better place students could take pride in.
It began with the football field at the campus. “It was a dirt field surrounded by a prison fence, so the parents took it upon ourselves to improve the facilities at Paschal,” Jefferies said.
Jefferies got the OK from principals and superintendents to build a new football field, and they soon raised nearly $750,000.
“It was a jumping off point,” he said. “Every school in FWISD saw the value and the school district stepped in and put turf fields at all the schools. FWISD told us to put that $750,000 into our next project, which was the gym.”
The Paschal Enshrinement Foundation raised nearly $2.2 million more to put into the Gus Bates Center. FWISD passed a bond package in 2017 to finish it off with another $3 million.
“We all came together – parents and alumni – because we felt it was a need for the community,” Jefferies said. “Nothing like this has been done and there were a lot of hoops to jump through. FWISD has been very helpful. It took a lot of time and work to make it happen.”
The center is named after the Bates family, who donated a portion to the facility. They have four generations of Paschal graduates.
It started with Gus Bates II in 1936. He went on to play football for the 1939 national champions Texas A&M. Gus Bates III, 1961, and Gus S. Bates, 1985, both graduated from TCU. They now own an insurance company in Fort Worth. Cooper, who was the quarterback last season, is a freshman at TCU.
“We are honored to have it be named after us, especially my dad,” Gus S. Bates said. “He was everyone’s youth football and baseball coach and he goes by ‘Pops’ now. But when Cooper was there, we were so involved with athletics. We certainly didn’t donate all of it; credit needs to be given to the others and especially Kirk. He did most of the heavy lifting and he needs to be recognized.
“We need to have great public schools in Fort Worth and hopefully this does a little part at Paschal to help achieve those goals.”
Added Gus Bates III, “We were at the game and it was so neat to see people come up to us and just tell us how much they appreciated it. It’s so nice to see new lockers for the kids, it warmed our hearts. I feel like now with the new facilities, they can compete with some of the inner-city kids.”
“It was amazing. It is everything we pictured it to be,” said Jefferies. “We couldn’t ask our middle school kids to come to our old gym – we had to turn people away because it would be too full. But now we can hold almost 1,000 people. It’s a huge impact for Paschal athletics and it creates pride in the community. Hopefully in the future we can host volleyball and basketball tournaments – it’ll be an event center – and now we can double up the size at our pep rallies too.”
The students love it. “It is so amazing and hard to believe it’s ours,” sophomore volleyball middle Megan Forrestal said. “We get to have so many people come out and support. It feels great to have everyone here.”