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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

They Paved Paradise

Back in 2007, I wrote a post about a construction project being done at the high school I graduated from in the mid-80s. The team practiced football in a place referred to as "the hole" because the field and a running track actually sat down in a hole. Funds were raised a few years ago to renovate the field and running track and to erect grandstands, a press box, locker rooms and concession stands.

I was sentimental about the changes, but at the same time, I was glad to see them taking place. The project is finished and a group of alumni, including myself, decided to check it out last Friday night. The football team isn't very good, but that didn't matter much. We just wanted to see what our old stomping grounds looked like. The renovation was impressive:

The hole looked nothing like this when I went to school here in the 1980s

One of my friends heard that football games are well attended and that we would need to get there early. So we pulled up more than hour before game time. I had a plan to park by the tennis courts -- the same courts I spent countless hours on during my high school days.

I played on the high school tennis team and my game went from hacker to semi-decent during those years. The tennis coach, Phil Gradoville, really helped me to understand that my game was best suited for the serve and volley style so we often worked on my volleying skills before anybody else got to practice. He also helped me develop a strong serve by taking me through various drills.

In addition to seeing my tennis improve, I also have some great memories of clowning around with teammates on those courts, and winning a few matches on them, and more than anything, feeling like I belonged somewhere.

For all of those reasons and more, I was looking forward to parking by the courts for the football game. When I turned the corner that led to the courts, I saw a large parking lot instead. Apparently that was part of the renovation. I can see why they did it -- because there wasn't any parking nearby, but still, it nearly took my breath away. Here's how it looks now:

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
But life moves on. And hopefully the new facility will lead to many great memories for the students who attend the school now. As for the game, it didn't turn out well for my former high school -- they lost 24-0, but the group of us who attended still had a good time. I wish I would have had somebody shoot a group picture of us, but I didn't. I was too busy shooting photos of the stadium and of the game.

You gotta love Friday night high school football


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