Barnesville launching a turf, lighting project for Shamrock Stadium
These are good times for the Barnesville football program.
The Shamrocks completed a 10-0 regular season, advanced to the second round of the Division V, Region 19 playoffs and are expected to return most of the key pieces from this season’s team in the fall of 2023.
To the victor go to the spoils, evidently.
On top of having a good chunk of their roster back, Barnesville’s facility at Shamrock Stadium is expected to undergo a significant makeover starting in the coming months.
If all goes as planned, Barnesville’s Shamrock Stadium will become the fourth Belmont County field to boast artificial turf. Also part of the project is the installation of new lights.
The Barnesville Exempted Village School District Board of Education is expected to hear the plan and begin the formal process of moving forward at its meeting later this month. Once that hurdle is cleared, Barnesville Director of Athletics Brad Hannahs believes the project, which is estimated to cost $1.5M will move relatively quickly.
“If we get this (project) at this (December) meeting, we’ll be in a good spot time wise to have it completed for the 2023 season,” Hannahs said. “If we get all of the details ironed out, we could have it set up to start in March when the ground thaws.”
Shamrock Stadium has been an area in which Barnesville has invested heavily in recent years. A new pressbox was built within the last decade and just within the last few years a new field house was constructed in the end zone. Turf seems to be the last piece to the puzzle.
“Facilities are important,” Hannahs said. “The cost of maintaining the (grass) field has increased. Plus, dealing with the rain and the mud and not wanting to tear up the field for the varsity games is an issue each year. For instance, this year, we had to move a junior high home game because we didn’t want to tear up the field after a rain.”
As for the cost, donations are being accepted currently and more information on that can be found on the school district’s website. According to Hannahs, some money has been pledged already and the school district plans to use some permanent improvement funds to help as well.
“We believe there are some other donors out there who are waiting until they know the project is going to definitely happen,” Hannahs said. “I believe once people see we’re going to have a (BOE) meeting on it, and the public is encouraged to come to that meeting so they understand what we’re doing, more donations will come.”
Similar to all other field projects, this type of undertaking is about more than just the varsity football team. According to Hannahs, Shamrock Stadium has hosted upwards of 20 games, considering seventh grade through varsity.
Plus, other sports will have access to use the field as needed. For instance, baseball and softball will be able to get outside and use the turf field, for practice, even if the field inside Memorial Park is still too wet. The band will also benefit because it can use the field for its practices, too.
“People love our stadium and I know they’ll be pleased once they see it finally complete,” Hannahs said. “Coming off a 10-0 season, people are excited. Plus, our seventh and eighth grade teams lost only one game, so we think we could be pretty good for the next several years.”
Along with the usage from the school-sponsored teams, Hannahs believes the ‘Little Rocks’ youth football program will be able to benefit, too.
Assuming the turf and light projects get done, Hannahs believes Barnesville’s location and seating capacity could make it a good fit to host neutral-site OHSAA playoff games down the road.
The benefits are simply endless.
That was the message that officials within the OHSAA, WVSSAC and OVAC have been trying to drive home to fans for many years. This past week a couple of incidents at junior high games in Eastern Ohio proved that we’re not there yet or really the message is simply falling on deaf ears.
During a junior high girls game between Union Local and Harrison Central in Morristown last Wednesday, the officials ejected four fans from the gymnasium. One female refused to leave the gym, so the officials abruptly ended the game with more than a quarter remaining in the eighth-grade contest.
That evening, Harrison Central girls’ coach Chace Smith, who is in his first season at the helm, wrote a letter to his fans and posted it on social media. It went viral. He admonished their behavior, pointing out the people who really lost out were the kids.
It should be noted that Harrison Central was winning this game by double figures and it was its fans that were causing the issues.
Folks, it’s junior high basketball. I feel confident in saying the officials working the game were not cheating your team and really couldn’t have cared less who won the games that evening.
We simply must do better as sports fans and society. Just because you pay your $5 to enter the gymnasium doesn’t give you the right to simple do and say whatever you please.
For that hour of that game, I understand it’s important to you and your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., but in the grand scheme of things there are far more important issues in life to be fired up about. How about take that hour and enjoy the opportunity to watch your loved ones do what they enjoy and that’s playing a sport?
I give credit to the officials for taking a stand. I also give credit to Union Local’s game administration, which did what it could to control the situation. I give credit to Coach Smith for speaking up on behalf of his program.
As for the fans who were ejected, I am embarrassed for you. And if I am embarrassed for you, think what your loved one, who was playing, must have been thinking as she watched her mother or grandmother get kicked out of the gym.
I personally don’t, but there are some who wonder why there is an officials shortage in this country for youth sports. I know why there’s a shortage. People simply aren’t going to tolerate obnoxious fans. Until our fans get better, show some respect and consider their actions, the problem with the officials shortage, sadly, will only get worse.
I officiate a sport and it’s not basketball. We’ve all heard things like “you stink, ref” or “you need a new pair of glasses, ump.” Most of that won’t get you thrown out of the gym. When it’s gets personal or an official feels threatened or in danger, be prepared to be shown the gate.
Again, we must be better! Not next week or next season either. This has to start immediately.
JOHN MARSHALL senior Sierra Taylor took part in the Champs Cross Country Race “Run The South’ event last weekend in Charlotte. She finished 28th place in a field that included juniors and seniors from 15 different states. Taylor plans to continue her running career at Davis & Elkins.
THE ANNUAL Sam Andy Classic will tip off Friday night at WesBanco Arena. Three games dot the card. At 4:30 p.m., Magnolia and Union Local’s boys will play. That sets the stage for Wheeling Park’s girls to take on Hiland and Wheeling Park will meet Zanesville in the nightcap with tipoff slated for 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for all three games and are available at the door or via the WesBanco Arena website.
Staskey can be reached via email at email@example.com