Waite to now enjoy field turf, but there’s even more

J. Patrick Eaken

Now that Waite’s historic Mollenkopf Stadium has field turf, all six Toledo City League schools will play home games on the artificial surface.
        Second-year Waite coach Brian Lee is excited to see renovations continue to happen at the stadium, named after the historic coach, Jack Mollenkopf, who went on to become head coach at Purdue University, where he also has athletic facilities named for him.
        Last year the stadium has new lights installed, a few years before a new concession stand and restrooms, and going back even further saw renovations to locker rooms and other amenities under the concrete stands on the home side. Also, a paved road was added leading up to the admission gate this year, and eventually new visitor’s bleachers will be brought in.
        “It’s a beautiful stadium — beautiful facility. Mr. (Dr. Romules) Durant, our TPS superintendent, and I were talking about the blue prints and the turf. Hearing him how excited he was to see and hear and get the turf, and to actually be out here enjoying the turf — it’s beautiful. Everybody has got turf and this is the key thing though — it’s not just us, but our youth get the turf. So we get these feeder kids into the East Toledo Junior Football League — they get to play on the turf and they get that experience.”
        Waite athletic director Cristina Lorton, an alumnus who was a hall of fame athlete, is proud of the renovations happening at the football stadium.
        “As a Waite graduate it is very special to see how the project has grown,” Lorton said. “It is a beautiful turf field. I still live near the stadium. When I attended football games back in high school, the facilities were not the greatest.
        “Now with the new turf, lighting, and fairly new concession area you get an amazing exciting feeling walking into Mollenkopf Stadium. It will hopefully be a great area and venue for state playoff games. We hope to keep more kids on the east side and attending Waite High School. Academics is first and then of course Waite High School athletics are a bonus.”
        Lorton says the turf will hold up in all weather conditions and can be used for soccer, softball, track and even baseball. Toledo Public Schools paid for the turf to Waite and Roger’s stadiums this year with the cost adding up to about $2.5 million, paid for through the district’s permanent improvement fund.
        A grant from the National Football League was to offset some of that cost. The new lights, pavement and new sound system were also paid for TPS, Lorton said. She added that the turf was installed by Rudolph Libbe Inc. and Oregon-based Maumee Bay Turf.
        Lorton agrees with Lee that the stadium’s use can now be extended outside the varsity sports programs.
        “They ETJFL uses the turf every week for their games. It’s sxciting for the kids to have such a great field to play on as well as outside organizations which will generate some extra funds for the district. We’re hoping to host playoff games,” Lorton said.
        “Mollenkopf Stadium is a work in progress. We would also like to add a shed for storage of bigger equipment and apparel. We would love a new track in the practice field area. We are hoping to have visitor stands in the near future.”
        Lee says there is one component to the stadium which he believes will help whip his players into better shape, and maybe the coaching staff, too.
        “The one thing about turf is, it’s hotter, so you play faster and you constantly make your kids sweat. It’s constantly a workout for my coaches and myself so when we are out on this turf, we want to respect the turf. So, everybody has some kind of opinion of, ‘Hey, we never lost on this field. Let’s not be the first class,’” Lee said.


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