Maryville donors, supporters get sneak peek of renovated stadium
By Will Estep | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Before the Maryville High School football team steps onto the field for its first regular-season home game against Alcoa, Maryville donors, sponsors and supporters got their chance to step onto the field. They were on hand to tour the new AstroTurf field at Shields Stadium and for a thank you from the school on Saturday afternoon.
The new video board, “Wall of Fame” and new synthetic turf field all cost the school around $500,000 that the city of Maryville paid for, but Maryville High School will pay all of it back. They are using their “Red-to-Black” campaign to help with the costs. The donations are coming from several former alumni who suited up for the Rebels, many of whom were in attendance for the evening of gratitude.
“That just shows you the kind of support, not just from your diehard fans, but from the alumni of Maryville High School,” Maryville football coach George Quarles said. “People that graduated in the ’50s and ’60s, and here they are on a Saturday night to come out and support us. That means a lot.”
Food was served for everyone in the Don Story Training Facility to begin the event before everyone met on the field for a ceremony. Story gave $50,000 in donations for the renovations, and Bill Phillips gave $10,000 to help with the costs.
“It’s been big. Like Sharon Anglim said, we have kind of a two-phase fundraising,” Quarles said of the campaign. “One was through the video board and advertising, and the second was through donations. I think, to date, we are around $110,000 or so that we have collected.”
Anglim, the director of communications for Maryville City Schools, was on hand for the event and spoke to the crowd about donations and recognized players that played in the 1940s and 1950s for Maryville.
Director of Maryville City Schools Stephanie Thompson and Assistant Director of Schools Mike Winstead also were on hand for the special presentation of the new renovations that were put to the test for the first time on Friday night for the Blount County Jamboree.
Anglim told the crowd that graduates of the 1950s have been especially active and supportive under the leadership of Ben Cate and Charlie Headrick to help secure more donations.
Both Cate and Headrick graduated in 1952 and played for the man whom the field is named after, Jim Renfro. While Cate wasn’t able to make it to the event, Headrick was excited to see the new field and to get to step onto the turf.
“It’s a class act. I think we have got the classiest stadium and school in the whole state of Tennessee,” Headrick said. “I like the scoreboard; it’s going to mean a lot to the watching of the football here.”
He won’t get to play on the new surface, but Headrick did have many great memories of his playing days in his final season.
“I was a senior in 1952, and I was captain of the team. We had a good team; we won all of our games but one,” Headrick said. “Elizabethton beat us one game. We had two great coaches. I think we did really good for the time because it wasn’t classes; it was just straight football.”
Ollie Keller was also in attendance and he played for Maryville High School in the late 1940s. He went on to a long coaching career, making stops at Iowa State, Memphis State and the University of Louisiana-Monroe along the way. Before he walked the sidelines of those schools, however, he was the head coach at Maryville High School in 1956. Keller also played on one of the teams to accomplish a first for the school.
“We had the first undefeated season in Maryville High School history in 1946,” Keller said. “It was a wonderful time to be here, and this is a culmination of some of those memories and sentimentality of it, and it’s just a special occasion to see the progress that’s happening.”
Also at the event was former Maryville quarterback Jeff Headrick. He played from 1981-1983 and now owns Volunteer Excavating, the company who completed the grading and utilities of the field.
“It was very neat. It was special and a big honor to be able to do that,” Headrick said of the chance to help renovate the field.