RIPON – Joshua Sarratt, Oregon born and raised, moved to California 18 years ago and sought a comfort zone.
He wanted a neighborhood that reminded him of Glendale, his tiny hometown (south of Eugene) where his high school graduating class numbered no more than 40. He even remembers Glendale's mile marker.
“86,” Sarratt recalled. “Funny how I haven’t forgotten that.”
Sarratt tried Milpitas, then Tracy. But when he found Ripon about a decade ago, he was hooked.
“I need a small hometown community that I could put roots in,” he said. “Ripon definitely was that spot for me.”
The union of family and town has worked for both. Sarratt, the founder and owner of American Sports Construction, has made his mark both in business and in the local culture.
His latest contribution is the installation of synthetic turf on the four baseball-softball diamonds surrounding the landmark water tower at Mistlin Sports Park. The project was completed last month, and Sarratt’s smile as he overlooks the site reflects satisfaction.
“We take pride in being Riponites,” he said. “When we see the local kids in our area do well, we take pride in that.”
Sarratt oversees a staff of 16, including his wife Tess, and runs the operation from the company’s warehouse in Manteca. Though the business is only about 4 years old, it’s already overcome the pandemic as it continues to grow.
To dodge the COVID-induced problems, Sarratt leaned hard on his vast experience in the turf-installation business.
The graduate of Southern Oregon spent over 14 years working his way up the ranks, from laborer to leadership, for FieldTurf, a world leader in turf supply. He was involved in projects both small and large, from elementary schools to the NFL.
That job took him from Autzen Stadium, the home of the Oregon Ducks, to Lumen Field, the home of the Seattle Seahawks. Simply, FieldTurf is everywhere: Sarratt was hands-on at venues such as Bulldog Stadium at Fresno State and, all told, about 500 addresses.
Sarratt often returned from road trips to root on his stepsons and football/basketball standouts Aaron Paschini and Nick Paschini at Ripon High. He also coached Ripon s junior varsity basketball as well as youth basketball for several years.
When it came time to step out on his own professionally, he was ready. Sarratt’s early focus for ASC has been what he calls the Highway 99 corridor.
“I want my fingerprints on it (the valley) to help it grow,” Sarratt said.
Some of his earliest local projects include Tokay High’s football stadium and many playgrounds and parks. But he’s also branched out to such diverse places as Harding Park in San Francisco (the practice range for The First Tee chapter there) and the scenic Shell at the San Diego Symphony.
His impact is seen locally, however, at Mistlin, the sprawling 122-acre playground for regional soccer, volleyball, baseball and softball youth tournaments. It was the brainchild of the generous Modesto-area philanthropist and car dealer Tony Mistlin, who died at age 95 in January of 2021.
Mistlin’s vision has become reality. The park is jammed nearly every weekend with young athletes from up and down California and much of the western portion of the country. It also features picnic and water play facilities and, across the street, the Melody Arena for volleyball.
Ripon High has played home baseball games at the two Mistlin fields that copy the outfield dimensions of Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, and Yankee Stadium. Nearby is the statue of Hall of Famer and Giants star Willie McCovey, one of Mistlin’s best friends. McCovey, who died in 2018, attended the statue’s dedication in 2013.
Sarratt restored the ballparks six years ago, and ASC’s recent work on the tower diamonds enhances Mistlin’s future. And just to continue the theme, plans are under way for a synthetic practice football and soccer field adjacent to Ripon High’s Stouffer Field.
Not bad for an Oregon man who found success in the valley.