ITHACA, Mich. (WNEM) – A local high school sports stadium will get a facelift with big plans to make it a huge memorial for veterans and first responders.
Over the past 10 years, Ithaca’s football program has been one of the most dominant in Michigan State, with seven Division Six championship game appearances and five state titles. This summer, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the program now has a new state-of-the-art artificial turf field.
“Last year we had some muddy games. So this summer there would be holes and stuff in the pitch and with a new surface like this we don’t have to worry about that at all” , said Bronson Bupp, senior quarterback and defensive back.
Ithaca’s original turf was installed in 1975 with only minor upgrades in recent decades. Head football coach Jordan Hessbrook said the school has been long overdue for a new turf. Heavy rain sometimes makes the ground so unplayable that the team has had to reschedule home games and play them offsite.
“If you look back over the years you can see that a lot of our games have really been a safety issue because of the playing conditions. It’s a loss of our home field advantage, plus a loss of our concession stands, a loss of our gate, more paying to move our game to another facility than the rental fee,” Hessbrook said.
The new turf is only part of the grand plan for this facility. It will become a huge patriotic tribute to those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that by next fall, large monuments and plaques will be built around the grounds to honor Michigan’s 22,000 Gold Star veterans and first responders who have donated. their lives in freedom conflicts since 1900.
The donor said there will also be Veterans Memorial Scholarships for each of Gratiot County’s six public high schools. They said this whole patriotic commemoration project is happening not just for Ithaca, but for the county and the state of Michigan.
Players say they are 100% behind.
“I thought it was a really cool thing to do because the military has done so much for us and our veterans are so important to us. We’ve done military things before, like little tribute parties. But now , it’s still there and it’s a good thing to have,” said Jeffrey Lombard, senior offensive and defensive lineman.
The season opener for Ithaca at their new home ground will be on August 1. 26 against Homer.
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