When La Cañada High Schools boys' water polo team practices each day, they can't help but admire the handiwork of team mom, Shelley Buck.
La Cañada High's pool has undergone a complete facelift. All the restorations were completed on Thursday when new letters, which read "La Cañada Spartans," were hung above the pool on Oct. 14.
"This is all water polo parents," Buck said. "We have had a history of great water polo teams and [the pool] was kind of rundown and it was time for us to put some energy into it."
Before the new letters were updated, the pool's once bare, stained walls got a fresh, colorful coat of paint, the goals, team banners and scorer's table were replaced and a snack shack was installed to continue to raise money for the program.
The total cost of the updates was $14,500 although their value is an estimated $40,000 to $50,000, factoring in the cost of labor. Buck made it all happen on a much smaller budget, though. She hired a muralist to do some freelance work on a unique payment method. He received some money as well as room and board, career training and advice from Buck's husband (an artist for Disney) as compensation.
"It looks 100% better than it used to," said Craig Franzen, the athletic director at La Cañada High School. "These water polo parents have just done an amazing job. Shelly Buck is kind of the inspiration behind this whole thing."
German Lopez, the Spartans water polo coach, was another brainchild behind the restoration, Buck said. He's encouraged a community feel with the water polo team, bringing parents together and energizing them to help improve the program. The parents and team responded, volunteering about 1,200 to 1,500 hours to help with the restoration.
"It's an investment in the future and the quality of the environment," Buck said.
Since the pool serves as an unofficial gateway of the school, it benefits more than just the aquatic teams, encouraging the La Cañada High School's Parent Teachers Association and Spartan Boosters Club donated around $5,000 to the effort.
"I told Boosters and PTA that this affected everybody because this is the face of our school," Buck said. "Kids may never set foot on the deck but parents will drive by. Basically, paint is cheap and the bottom line, the letters, the PTA and Boosters covered the cost for materials and the labor was all donated."
These upgrades also make a statement about Spartan aquatics, Franzen said.
"This alone — the moniker they put up on the wall and redoing the letters — it's bringing back the pride that was there before," Franzen said. "This is something you walk past and say this is La Cañada Water Polo, swim or aquatics. That's the special part of this. The banners highlight all the champions that we have. This is an amazing program."