Fri, Sep. 12, 2008 - [Football] - Viewed 1831 times
STERLING, KS - The community of Sterling, Kansas, home to the Sterling College Warriors, celebrates the official opening of the renovated Smisor Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m. Sterling College will host Friends University for the first game of the season.
Five years ago the planning for the renovation began, culminating five months ago when actual construction started. During the late spring and summer the south end of the Sterling College campus was encumbered with caution tape, front-end loaders and hard- hat crews, and dozens of Sterling citizens have driven by to check the progress of this 1.5 million dollar renovation of the football and track facility.
Smisor Stadium serves both the college and Sterling High school for football and track, and it was in great need of a facelift. The project was a cooperative agreement between the Sterling Unified School District and Sterling College, and the improved facility is both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.
Limestone pillars mark the entrance to the wrought-iron gated complex. The track, still under construction, is laid with rubber compound, an inviting and injury-preventing surface. The field is a natural grass surface, a perfected athletic blend of fescue and bluegrass that sits on a sandy loam foundation that raises the playing surface nearly two feet higher than the previous field. It is this foundation that makes this natural grass surface resistant to damage from wet playing conditions and a viable and beautiful alternative to a synthetic surface.
On September 6, after several days of heavy rain, the high school football team played its first game on the field, a test of the field's endurance. Despite worries, by the beginning of the next week, the playing surface was pristine, with no evidence of the game played just two days earlier. The deeply rooted grass as well as an aggressive top dressing of sand worked magically as designed.
The best spot for viewing the field, fresh cut, vertically striped and perfectly manicured, is the newly renovated press box atop the stadium. This is now the VIP location of the facility and a tremendous improvement on the previous press box. Now two media/press boxes have clear views of the field, one on either side of the 50-yard line, and each box is flanked by a coaches' box. The press boxes have two sitting levels with ample room, laptop hookups, wireless internet, and radio phone lines. Both boxes combined will comfortably accommodate up to 30 media and statisticians. The coaching staffs, previously crammed in with the press, now have privacy in a bi-level box of their own where up to 10 coaches, prospective players, and/or program VIPs can view the game.
Those who planned, fundraised, and provided direct input and direction for the project spent much of this past summer in meetings and walks around the facility while crews worked. This was a hands-on project for Sterling College Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Andy Lambert, defensive coordinator Chuck Lambert and VP of Operations Paul Bingle. It was not uncommon to see Paul Bingle, a project manager and long-time citizen of Sterling, in dress shirt and tie, sweeping off the newly laid, asphalt track surface or carrying construction materials, doing anything necessary to make sure deadlines were met. He says, "It's been a roller-coaster journey, but in the end, one that I have been grateful to be a part of. What is being done is something that enhances our college and community beyond measure and I am proud to have witnessed it day by day."
Andy Lambert is also pleased with the outcome. "We are so blessed to be able to take part in this effort. This is such a great time in the life of the athletic department of Sterling College, the Sterling Unified School District as well as the community, and we are excited to have been a part of it."
And those in the community are also pleased. Keith Patterson, head football coach of the high school, who could also be seen swinging a hammer during construction, commented, "We are extremely grateful for what the college has done for this community. Our kids are extremely excited to be able to play in a facility like this."
The facility, however, was not possible without the financial backing of many supporters. Don Reed, a native of Sterling and Director of Athletic Advancement for Sterling College, was a key part in the fundraising process for the stadium. "It is a win-win situation for our community as it will provide our local school system with a top facility and a wonderful area for our citizens for jogging and exercise. For the College, it will greatly strengthen our ability to recruit quality student-athletes for our football, track and cross-country programs. The improvement to the track means the College will once again be able to have home meets. I have also been pleased in my work of raising funds for this project to see so many people in the Sterling community want to be a part of supporting this improvement in our town. We are only shy of the financial goal by about 10%, and we are anxious to welcome the last few supporters who will help us with the completion."
So as the sun sets Saturday evening and the lights come up on the Sterling Warriors competing on the gridiron, the new life of Smisor Stadium will begin. The mere idea of five years ago, given life through the hard work, long hours, deadlines, and elbow grease of those on the sidelines-as well as some in the stands-will be a reality.
This information provided courtesy of Justin Morris, Sports Information Director at Sterling College.