HOLIDAY — Just like in the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams, he built it and they came.
A lifelong sports fan, Nathanael Pauley wanted to introduce his students at World of Knowledge, a Montessori school, to the joys of competitive games.
"Some of the kids had never even seen a ball game and had never played sports," said Pauley, a coach and teacher at World of Knowledge. "And the parents wanted them to play."
Aware of the cost and lack of accessibility to local sports programs, Pauley built a sports field at the school three years ago on a 20- by 50-yard space at the back of the school property so student teams could play soccer, Wiffle ball and flag football.
He planted grass and installed a public address system, water fountains and lighting on the property with the help of a grant from the Holiday Home Depot and a donation of lighting equipment from Mark Samples, an electrician and World of Knowledge parent. Students built bleachers in woodshop class. Pauley built personalized lockers for players in a back garage that doubles as a locker room and equipment storage area.
This year World of Knowledge hosts teams for three age groups, with each team boasting a full roster of 14 students.
"They've beaten their own parents every time they play them," Pauley said.
Now he is looking to expand his team concept into an elementary sports league that will include area schools such as the Millennium Academy in Port Richey. The two schools will meet in a soccer match Sept. 20.
Just as World of Knowledge teams and games have grown over time, so has attendance. Close to 100 parents and grandparents come to each game
"Aside from giving them the chance to play sports, coach Pauley is teaching them teamwork," said Melissa Grechniw, whose 9-year-old daughter, Zina, plays. "And by example, he's teaching that hard work can make anything possible."