ITHAKA, MI (WNEM) – The local school sports stadium will be renovated with grandiose plans to make it a huge memorial to veterans and rescuers.
Over the past 10 years, Ithaca’s football program has been one of the most dominant in the state of Michigan, with seven division six championship appearances and five state titles. This summer, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the program has a new, state-of-the-art artificial turf.
“Last year we had dirty games. So this summer there will be holes and stuff on the field, and with this new surface, we don’t have to worry at all,” said Bronson Bupp, senior quarterback and defenseman.
Ithaca’s original grass turf was installed in 1975 and has only been slightly upgraded over the past few decades. Head football coach Jordan Hessbrook said the school is long overdue for a turf change. Heavy rain sometimes makes the pitch so unplayable that the team has to reschedule home games and play them outside the stadium.
“If you go through the years, you will see that a lot of our games did have security issues due to the game environment. It’s the loss of our home field advantage, plus the loss of our concession stands, the loss of our goals, plus the cost of moving our game to another venue instead of rent,” Hessbroek said.
The new lawn on the field is only part of the grandiose plan for this facility. This will be a huge patriotic tribute to those who have served and sacrificed themselves for our freedom.
The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said large monuments and plaques will be erected around the field by next fall to honor the 22,000 Michigan Gold Star veterans and rescuers who have given their lives in freedom conflicts since 1900.
The donor said that each of Gratiot County’s six public high schools will also provide Veterans Memorial Scholarships. They said that this whole patriotic memorial project is being done not only for Ithaca, but for the county and the state of Michigan.
The players say they are 100 percent ready.
“I thought it was really cool because the military has done so much for us and our veterans are so important to us. We used to do military things before, for example, small memorial evenings. But now he’s always there, which is great,” said Jeffrey Lombard, senior offensive and defensive linesman.
The season opener for Ithaca at their new pitch will be on August 26 against Homer.
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