Tag Archives: Campbell Field

Sports Fields

There’s something special about a sports field. I could go Wide World of Sports and talk about the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” types of activities which occur on a sports field but it goes beyond that.

It’s something visceral.

It’s something old and ancient.

It’s about community and people coming together.

The “Friday Night in America” feeling.

There’s something special in the field I played little league baseball on and the fields where we practiced baseball and football. All those other fields where we’d show up on a hot summer morning or a fall/winter Saturday to play pickup games.

I will always be tied to those fields as much as I am tied to the house I was born and grew up in. They are as much a part of me as my school or my church.

Now, I am old.

I live in an entirely different place than where I grew up. Worlds away, it often seems.

But there are still sports fields.

And they still grab ahold of me.

They grab me and anchor me to the essence of what my adopted hometown means.

A football stadium that oozes the history of this town through the memories of sons, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who played there. A stadium built of limestone quarried on a farm just outside town and hauled stone by stone to be placed by local workers during the depression.

A baseball field with more frustrating problems than solutions. But a field getting a little bit better every day thanks to the generous and caring individuals and businesses in town. A field of remembrance as well as a field to play ball on.

Those are the two places in Clay Center, Kansas that pull me into their strong orbit. Places I’ve grown to care deeply about. Places to appreciate every single thing done to preserve and improve upon them. From the city and the baseball field renovation project to the school district’s improvement projects on Otto Unruh Stadium (especially the masonry restoration done by Jan Kissinger’s company and crew), I, for one, am grateful.

Community

Connections

Competition

That’s what sports fields do.

That’s why they are special places.

 

 

 

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My Friday Night Lights

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I would say 1000 thousand words is an understatement to my view tonight while cleaning rocks off the baseball field.

StadiumSunset1

Pretty darn nice for a January 23 evening.

Sometimes you just have to stop and soak in the beauty.

Then get back to raking rocks.

RockCleaning

Baseball season is just around the corner…

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This Is Our House

“This is our house.”
You hear this quite often in sports.
Home field.
The home field advantage.

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At the western gateway of Clay Center we have our sports houses.
We have Unruh Stadium for football.
We have Kelly Campbell Field for baseball.
Our home fields. Our houses.

Campbell Shack Unruh Scoreboard 2

But our sports houses have not been taken care of very well.
Sports fields need maintenance. Almost daily maintenance.
Our fields and stadiums have not been maintained well.
They need some care.
They need us, the community.

Unruh Stands South

Campbell 1B Dugout

There’s been a lot of finger pointing about these problems.
Lots of blame, lots of ideas, very little action.
It reminded me of a phrase Coach Dail Smith would tell our football kids.
“When you point the finger of blame, remember three of your own fingers are pointing straight back to you.”

It was time to become part of the solution.

In late 2013, Rex Carlson, Larry Wallace, Jr. and I took on a project to renovate Campbell Field.
The mayor gave us the fancy title of the ad hoc Committee for Campbell Field Renovation.
Why in the world would we take on such a daunting task?

First, there was the eye test.
Things had fallen apart.
The playing surface was a mess.
Dugouts, mounds, bullpens, fence…all a mess.
Lack of daily maintenance, lack of water, and lots of Kansas wind did major damage.

Second, there was the ear test.
People were saying a lot of bad things about our baseball field. Many of these people were the same people who failed to raise a finger to help, who failed to hold up their promises and turned away from their commitments.
Their words stung. Their words lit a fire.
Their words fueled a change.

Third, we opened our own eyes and saw the work being done for area youth baseball. We saw kids enjoying the game of baseball all around us. We saw teams practicing and working to get better. We saw youngsters smiling and playing the game.

We knew these kids deserved a decent place to play the game.

We also knew the most important thing to accomplish was a renovation plan that could be maintained within the limited budget and resources of the city and the city recreation department. The plan needed to be smart, it need to be maintainable and it needed to maximize every dollar graciously donated by people and businesses of our community toward the project.

With the blessing and support of the city, we are working toward making Campbell Field a safe, playable, rural Kansas 4A high school baseball field. This is our goal. Our goal is not to build a professional or collegiate field. Our system could never maintain such a dream field.

Campbell Infield

In all honesty, facilities aren’t not the best of investments. The more resources you spend on them, the more resources it takes to maintain them. Our philosophy is to take care of what we have so our community can spend the bulk of their  limited resources on programs, not facilities.

We are getting closer to our goal and have set up a fund for donations through the Clay Center Community Improvement Foundation to help the common sense renovations of Campbell Field, Schaulis Field, and Montel Field. If you are interested in helping the cause through  a greatly appreciated donation or an in-kind donation, please contact Rex, Larry, me, or the CC Community Improvement Foundation for information.

I hope a similar, common sense financial approach will be taken with Unruh Stadium renovation.

Unruh from scoreboard

A plan to fix the structural problems and maintain the facility for the long-term. A plan to address the ADA compliant issues with perhaps ramp/viewing areas (30-40 feet across) at the ends of the stands following the basic design Oakley, Kansas used on their WPA-era stadium renovation a few years back.

 

Oakley Stadium1

 

Maybe even redesign the player and fan space in the stadium by turning the current home locker room, men’s restroom, storage room,and referee room at the south end into a new men’s and women’s restrooms/concession area in that space. At the north end of the stadium, expand the visitor’s locker room into current women’s restroom and add additional showers in that space. A new metal building could be constructed for the home locker room/referee room/storage room in the grass area south of the stadium where the team bus currently parks. The fencing behind the stadium needs a face-lift anyway and could be moved to accommodate this structure.  If funds are available or raised, a limestone arched entryway/ticket booth addition would look great attached to the north and south end of the stadium.

image

I thoroughly appreciate my years enjoying this view while coaching football.

It was a blast to have coached football and baseball in Clay Center.

It was an honor to be a part of something so special.

We do have something special in Clay Center. Believe me, coming from a 6A city school, what we have in Clay Center, with our fields, our fans, and our kids are all very, very special.

I think it’s time to go to work. It’s time to keep our special things special.

Purpose. Pride. Passion.

The Clay Center Way.

 

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Step By Step

Everybody wants to win.

It’s human nature.

What distinguishes success from failure if we all initially desire the same thing? In other words, how did we get to the results we got?

It’s the staircase philosophy.

Huh?

Think of a long flight of stairs. My own visual staircase is an isolated utilitarian concrete set of stairs anchored to the ground in the middle of nowhere. Now visualize a shiny, rather gargantuan gold trophy at the top. This is the victory, the goal which is the pinnacle of your chosen endeavor. When you reach that top step, you’ll sit down next to that golden trophy and put your arm around it like it’s your best friend in the whole world. It’s Nirvana.

Here’s the problem that separates the “everybody wants to win” people from the winners. You have to start at the start. You have to start at the bottom of the stairs and work your way up one stair at a time.

The first step is not so bad. It’s usually just a simple hop up.

The second step is a little higher and it takes more skill to climb.

And so on and so on…

Until you get to those final few steps. These steps are the separators, these are the monster steps. Hard work is the magic on these steps. The prize is within reach, you can almost taste it.. One must decide on doing the work and making the sacrifices to make the next level or stay and give up.

PlainStairs

Successful folks understand the staircase philosophy. Constant work builds upon a solid foundation each step of the way. There are no shortcuts. A lot of money is spent on magic bullets and pills and supplements trying to find a shortcut.

There are no shortcuts.

It’s like learning the alphabet. We didn’t learn “A” and jump right to “Z”. Too many people want to make a grab for the “Z” right off the bat. It doesn’t work that way.

It is a methodical learning curve, A to B to C to D…, one letter at a time, all the way to Z. It’s like Mrs. Hays is often (always) saying, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

A wonderful group of local Clay County people are starting a project to bring life back into our baseball field, Kelly Campbell Field. We are going to follow the staircase philosophy. We are going to work our way up to have a playable small town high school baseball field. We are going to follow a staircase philosophy while being extremely financially responsible and respectful.

(So, if you see folks working on Kelly Campbell Field, thank them for their effort. And, if you find yourself with an extra dollar in your pocket, I’m sure the Clay Center Parks & Recreation Committee can find a good use for each dollar designated to Campbell Field.)

Everybody wants to win. Winning is a way of doing business, a way of life.

The joy is in the journey. The joy is climbing one step at a time. The is earning your way to the next step.

Step by step.

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