By Ryan Kaczmarski
It takes a special kind of kid to work for free. It takes even more for more than 100 students to come out on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon and do manual labor out of civic pride.
This happened at North Olmsted High School’s football stadium as athletic director Mike Ptacek put a notice out to all students to come help make stadium improvements while showing off their “Eagle Pride.”
“I think we have well over 100 kids here, and we’re just trying to make a difference,” Ptacek said. “We had a fabulous turnout, and it’s those little things that can make a difference. (The students) are taking some ownership in the facility, and that’s what we’re trying to get to.
“It’s never easy, and you how tight money is (right now),” he added. “Thank God for Sherwin-Williams. They stepped up and offered us some support, and now it’s just up to us to get the job done.”
The Cleveland-based paint company donated paint and supplies to NOHS for the project.
Not only was Ptacek there helping alongside the students, varsity head football coach Tim Brediger was on hand, with his two young daughters, to help this phase of the overall stadium project get completed.
“This shows the pride that the kids in North Olmsted have (in their school),” Brediger said. “We probably have over 100 kids, 20 parents, coaches from a few sports and the athletic director. We did this a couple weeks ago (in the training room) and passed out fliers on stadium project information, and this looks like the turnout has doubled (since then).
“If we can just keep carrying this momentum into the sports season – fixing things up here and there, both inside and outside the building – we can get prepared for when we get the turf (on the field). It will all go together well and we can take a lot of pride in what we have here.”
This painting was just the first step of the North Olmsted Stadium Foundation’s (NOSF) Eagle Pride Stadium Project, which is a broad-scale, collaborative effort in the city of North Olmsted among parents, residents, business leaders, alumni, administration and other key groups to upgrade the North Olmsted City Schools athletic complex. The project calls for the creation of a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility. The first phase, “Turf the Field” includes the installation of a synthetic field to serve the football, soccer, baseball, softball, track, band and cheerleading programs; as well as many other athletic, community, recreational and school events. The longer term goal includes additional facility upgrades of lights, concession stands, bathrooms, entrances, and more. The North Olmsted Stadium Foundation seeks to raise funds and bring these needed improvements to the district without seeking tax dollars. The goal is to be 100 percent funded through donations, fundraisers and grants.
“Mike (Ptacek) has done a great job, in less than a month (on the job), especially with the stadium,” Jackie Dickey, North Olmsted Eagle Boosters member, and member of the Stadium Foundation Committee, said. “The kids are all eager to be here and take part in what is going on here. It’s going to be pretty nice.”
The stadium renovations, new turf and the new track will all be self-funded, and the NOSF is well on its way to reaching its monetary goal of $1.5 million.
“We’re at about $260,000 right now,” Dickey said. “We have someone who is very interested in the naming rights of the stadium, so we’re working with the school board to get that all approved. Hopefully, we’ll be announcing that shortly.”
North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy will also be holding a fundraiser for this project Sept. 5 at the North Olmsted Community Cabin, from 5-8 p.m.
“This is very important for the city,” Kennedy said. “I’m donating 100 percent of the cost of the fundraiser, so everything donated will go to the foundation.”
For more information on the NOSF, go to www.nostadiumfoundation.com.