EATON TWP. — The sky overhead was filled with dark, threatening clouds and an occasional sprinkle, but the weather held off Tuesday afternoon for an outdoor assembly to thank those who helped make Midview High School’s new $800,000 turf field a reality.
“You’re going to see this beautiful field every Friday night,” Principal Tom Faska told hundreds of students who filled the stands at Ross Field for a special end-of-day assembly in recognition of the bright green artificial turf field through a $200,000 grant provided by the Cleveland Browns and the NFL’s Grassroots Program, which offers money to improve local football fields across the country.
Midview Athletic Director Creg Jantz singled out Sharon Duffner and Tim Ruffner, parents of Midview football players, and members of the district’s Midview Touchdown Club booster organization, for their roles in helping the district apply for and obtain the grant.
More photos below.
Talking after the assembly, the two cited a serious injury to a Midview JV player last season on an adjoining field as a spark to go after funds for new turf at Adelsberg Stadium.
“It was an awful injury, and I just remember saying, ‘I’m done, we have to do something about this,’” Duffner said.
Midview’s main football field was often in sloppy shape and too muddy during the 2011 season for the Midview band to perform during games, Ruffner said.
Both Duffner and Ruffner said studies show there is a direct positive correlation between sports and the classroom.
“Things like this can open doors for students who get involved in athletics and academics,” Duffner said. “It can foster such a positive attitude for kids who take part in both.”
Duffner’s husband, Shawn, also was cited as a key member of the group who helped make the grant and turf field a reality.
The couple’s son, Jack, 16, plays tight end for Midview.
Ruffner’s 17-year-old son, Derek, is an outside linebacker for the Middies.
The two acknowledged there was some initial opposition to the project.
“There will always be pushback,” Ruffner said.
Supporters made it clear the grant funds could not be used for textbooks or other classroom needs, according to Duffner, who is a member of the Compass Committee, a group that looks for ways to improve the district’s academic programs.
“We made it very clear that these funds have to be kept separate,” Duffner said. “Believe me — I’d give anything to have that for academics.”
The new field also was made possible by a $350,000 gift from the Ross Foundation, the charitable arm of Ross Environmental Services Inc., and a $150,000 donation from William Carmel, a 1948 Midview grad who gave $150,000.
The NFL grant required a local match for the project to go forward.
Cleveland Browns safety Usama Young received a big cheer and applause from students, many of whom sported the Browns’ colors, when he told them he never got to play on turf in high school.
“This will spark a positive change,” Young said of the new field. “The sky’s the limit, and you will take it that far.”
The new field is expected to save the district approximately $25,000 a year in maintenance costs, according to Jantz.
Contact Steve Fogarty 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.