New scoreboard is Eagle Scout project

R.J. McLaughlin gives something back to community


Ketchum’s R.J. McLaughlin decided last summer he wanted to transfer from Hailey’s Wood River High School to The Community School. He did, becoming a junior at the Sun Valley independent school. But he had one unfinished project.

He wanted to complete his Eagle Scout project—installing a new scoreboard at the South Valley Sports Complex soccer field near the high school in Hailey. McLaughlin said, "It’s the best soccer field in the valley. I just wanted to do something to have an impact."

And to give something back to his community. Of course, he got some grief from his new teammates at The Community School. "Some of them didn’t really understand why I was doing this project for Wood River when I was on their team," said McLaughlin with a smile.

You see, McLaughlin had been an important member of the Wood River boys’ varsity soccer team.

He had played goalkeeper for Wood River during the first two seasons the team played on the new South Valley Sports Complex soccer field. And he had been educated in the Blaine County School District.

As a goalkeeper, you have a lot of down time to gaze around at your surroundings and ruminate on the life’s little ironies.

When McLaughlin played for Wood River, he thought a scoreboard was one thing missing from the school’s excellent new facility. "Other soccer teams had scoreboards. I thought we could use one," he said. "I decided to build a scoreboard for my Eagle Scout project."

He talked to Larry Lloyd of Ketchum, who was responsible for putting together much of the financing and construction of South Valley Sports Complex. Lloyd said he thought it was an excellent idea. McLaughlin proposed his plan to the Eagle Scout board. It was approved.

Simplicity was a factor because McLaughlin wanted the scoreboard to be used by all soccer teams using the field. There was no electricity involved. The scoreboard was to be wooden, with removable numbers that could be manually put up and taken down as the score changed during a game. Lettering would denote "Visitor" and "Home" teams.

McLaughlin, whose father is an architect, started by making preliminary plans, sizes and dimensions. On Lloyd’s suggestion, he talked to Hailey Building Inspector Lou Mallea. "Mr. Mallea made some good suggestions of things I could do to make the scoreboard more stable," McLaughlin said.

He approached contractors to get donated materials. "I gathered my materials," McLaughlin said.

For instance, Bob Parker of Sawtooth Wood Products donated the big posts. Contractor John Lloyd donated cement and concrete and actually helped McLaughlin erect the scoreboard. Dave Wilson gave green paint, Storey Construction donated numbers for the scoreboard and The Sign Company donated the lettering.

Loomis Construction gave the boards on which the face of the scoreboard sits. Ed Sinnott of Clearwater Landscaping dug the holes for the scoreboard posts.

McLaughlin got together with Larry Lloyd at the field and picked a spot for the scoreboard. "Larry and I decided where it should be, kind of out of the wind and sunshine," he said. Then, in the chill of approaching winter during October 1997, they went out and spent a couple of days erecting the final product.

Some of the people helping McLaughlin put the scoreboard up were his father Jim McLaughlin, John Lloyd, Steve and Becky Keefer, Jeremy Greenberg and Stewart Sonneland. And Mary McLaughlin helped R.J. paint the sign.

"I think the people at Wood River were pretty happy with the end result," said R.J., who said the entire project took about two months, start-to-finish. "It was nice to see the accumulation of work, and that it turned out well and people can see the scoreboard clearly.

"By doing something like this, you find out what it’s like to be the head of something—to get people to help you, to organize things and get people together and get materials."

McLaughlin has been in Scouting since he was a Cub Scout in Den 7. He became the first person in Troop 192 to earn Eagle Scout.

Troop 192 had a Court of Honor to mark McLaughlin’s passage from Boy Scouts to Eagle Scout during a ceremony held Monday, April 27 at the Ketchum American Legion Hall. The troop leader is Paul Stoops.

McLaughlin is a son of Willa and Jim McLaughlin. His older sister, Jamie McLaughlin, a 1996 Wood River High School graduate, is currently studying elementary education as a sophomore at Pepperdine University near Los Angeles.

 

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