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The old youth football field behind the Washington County Board of Education building has sat dormant for decades, but thanks to a local businessman and permission from the school board, some new life is being given to the old field.
“Last September, John Haydon approached us concerning use of the field for the Blake Hoppes Football League,” said Washington County School Superintendent Robin Cochran. “When they first started that league, they were using the football field at the high school. With high school games on Fridays and JV and middle school teams trying to play throughout the week, it was just too much for that field.”
Haydon, owner of Haydon Brothers Contracting in Springfield, offered to provide labor and secure donations for materials to renovate the field. There was no cost to the board of education.
“We put the goal posts in around the first of August, and thanks to the city and Bernard (park director Bernard Smalley), we’re using bleachers from the Little League field at Idle Hour Park because they don’t use them this time of the year,” said Haydon. “Electricity and water lines have been run, and we’re getting ready to put in a scoreboard.”
The scoreboard was donated by Coca-Cola in Campbellsville, and Haydon has provided a trailer which will be used to store equipment and sell concessions.
“It’s a nice field and a nice area,” added Cochran. “It used to be used for the grade school. The board gave permission for him to do the work with the only stipulation being that he come back to the board if there were any modifications to the field other than goal posts, bleachers, and those types of things.”
Contrary to popular belief, the field is not being redone for the sole benefit of St. Dominic sports.
In an email issued to Washington County faculty and staff, Chad Willis, director of pupil personnel for Washington County Schools, said, “There is a misconception floating around that this field is strictly for St. Dominic teams only. That is completely false. The St. Dominic football team in past years has practiced on the field by the water tower at the high school or any other level spot they could find on the high school campus. Now, they are practicing here at the board of education field. WCMS could also practice here if they want to, but with the locker rooms close by, it is easier for them to practice at the high school. Any Washington County team can use this field at any time. I have talked to Ms. (Tina) Sagrecy, WCMS principal, and she said they want to keep their football games at the high school. There are several advantages to using the high school field over the field at the board of education. Locker rooms, restrooms, scoreboard, concession stands, and stadium lights are just a few of the advantages. St. Dominic is going to use the field at the board office and this will help alleviate over play and scheduling conflicts at the high school football field. Any team from middle school, freshmen or junior varsity can use this field.”
Cochran said she has also heard comments about the field.
“There have been a couple of comments that the board took public funds and they are using it to support St. Dominic,” Cochran said. “That wasn’t the case. The only cost that we will incur will be a charge for electricity, and we’re projecting that to be minimal for the entire year, less than $1,000 for the whole year. With the donations that Toyotomi makes and other programs, we can offset that cost.”
“The field is little expense to the board of education as the goal posts were donated, the seeding for the field was donated, the bleachers were no cost to the board and the labor to install the goal posts was donated,” added Willis.
The school board also was concerned about the use of the field by some community soccer leagues, including some Hispanic groups that often played on the field.
“We met with the leader of the Hispanic community and we asked that they use the top field on the property,” added Cochran. “We were having some issues with litter, so the improvements to the field took care of that issue because we had a conversation that the kids are going to be out there and you can’t have trash laying around. It’s not like we ran anyone off, we just asked them to use the top field. There’s enough room for everybody, and that’s what we want.”
The Blake Hoppes league started play this past Sunday, but “Kick-off Sunday”, as Haydon calls it, will take place this coming Sunday.
“The reason for that is that, on Sept. 19, all of the teams in Springfield will play at home on that day,” he added. “We’ll be giving away free hamburgers and hot dogs, and I should have the scoreboard up and running by that Sunday.”
When the field is not being used by the Blake Hoppes league, it can be used by any youth team in the county.
“Obviously, the board of education still owns the field, but they have allowed us to call it our field, so to speak,” said Haydon. “This is the third year for the league, and quite frankly, the high school football field gets too much use. I just felt that the field has sat there empty for 20 years, and we really needed a place that we can call home. We’ve got over 100 kids involved in this league, and Campbellsville has joined now, so we have teams in Springfield, Campbellsville and Lebanon.”
Supporting the young people of the community is the prime concern of Cochran and the board of education.
“We’re about kids, period,” said Cochran. “I’m ecstatic that we’ve been able to turn something as unuseful and unattractive as a simple field into a play area that supports kids in Washington County in an active, engaging way that gives them something to do after school, and it gives them something to do on the weekends. The school is part of the community’s resource. We don’t own the school, we don’t own the property. The community owns it. Eventually, St. Dominic kids are going to be Washington County kids because most of them will go to our high school. This is another exciting way for us to come together as a community.”