2018-08-09 / Sports

Showing our Tiger Pride should extend to facility now inferior to others

TO THE EDITOR:

High school football season is upon us once more, a special time of the year for a community like ours where blue and gold are the colors of choice, where we sit together, cheer together, encourage each other, and act as one.

We fill Tiger Stadium and acknowledge that the young people participating and the coaches coaching are OURS, in capital letters! We are proud of their efforts. We are proud of Charlie Davidson Field, our hallowed turf, a playing surface as nice as any grass field around thanks to committed coaches and intensely dedicated community volunteers.

In 1919, one hundred years ago next year, Washington High School played its very first football game on this site. World War I had ended only 11 months before. The East Georgia Fair was filling these grounds with agricultural exhibitions and entertainments from horse racing to greased pole climbing. Folks still called this place Barnett Park for the family who lived in what is now Washington’s Historical Museum and for whom this had been their farm.

I haven’t found another school in Georgia that is still playing football on its original field from that era. If there are others, they would be few. The stadium itself, though, is another matter.

I see the pride in our players on the field, enthusiasm from our cheer squad, and talent and precision from our band. I also see our decrepit Tiger Den, substandard bathrooms, visitors’ dressing room, officials’ facilities, and concession stands. Parking on dirt and grass can be chaotic and abysmal especially on rainy nights when “quagmire” is almost a kind word to describe the condition!

This is not something that has just occurred. It is the result of several decades of accepting the status quo, of not opening our eyes to the necessity of repair and replace.

This facility was a source of pride in our frequent playoff runs toward championships in the 1980s. It looked pretty good, far better than stadiums at Hancock Central or Warren County, or most others in Georgia, near or far. Now, though, Washington-Wilkes has been left in the dust, the mud, and the embarrassment of inferiority. Both Hancock and Warren now have glossy new facilities.

Tiger Stadium is where visiting fans experience our community. Thanks to our abject and forlorn structures, they don’t see Tiger pride or pride at all…and our whole county is judged accordingly.

This is not a matter to be solved by the Athletic Department, but for our Superintendant and Board of Education to address head on. Other school systems all over Georgia have found ways to provide safe, healthy, and attractive environments for football Friday nights and other activities a stadium might host. Surely we can do the same.

Let us come together to support a renewal of the facilities at Tiger Stadium to honor our storied program’s legacy as we enter our centennial year.

Sincerely, SKEET WILLINGHAM

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