Alumni bid goodbye to Gilcrest Stadium

By Heather Deeley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

"Come on maroon! Come on blue! Come on team! Come on through!" they would chant.

Friday night, the field, now known as Gilcrest Stadium, where players now sport blue and white, held its last game. In June, dismantling will begin, but memories will keep the piece of history alive for many.

"When I was about six years old, I started sneaking into the stadium," Bud Wymer said. "There was a hole in the fence, and we kept a rock in front of it. I got away with it for many years."

Wymer said he won't be sneaking into the new stadium.

"I can't crawl that low now," he laughed.

Some fans claim to have never missed a game.

"My brother and I never missed a game, home or away, for 13 years," Paul Postlethwaite said. "I am going to miss hearing the cheers from practically any place in Ravenna. The new site is up and away and the sounds will dissipate."

Gilcrest was home to baseball games, Postlethwaite said, and the football field was a state-of-the-art field with a drainage system.

"It was one of the best around at that time," he said.

But the new stadium won't stop him from coming to the games.

"I'll be a true fan till I die," he said.

But not all fans were nostalgic about Gilcrest.

"I can't wait," said co-president of Ravenna Athletic Boosters Patty Gaski. "I am so excited for the new stadium. You can't sit on the top bleachers because they are unsafe and the concession stands are the pits. I applaud the board for going ahead with this."

Fellow concession stand volunteer and athletic booster Sheila Phelps said she is also well prepared to say her goodbyes to Gilcrest.

"There is not one thing about this place that I'll miss," Phelps said.

At the ticket booth, Ravenna graduate and lifelong resident Nancy Reedy had mixed feelings.

"I have a lot of memories here, but we desperately need a new stadium," Reedy said. "I'm excited because my kids can enjoy the new one."

Seventh-graders, while not as nostalgic, also had mixed emotions.

Josh DeWitt has been to every game this year.

Joe Ruocchio said he may attend more games at the new stadium.

Megan Gombeda is excited for new facility but said, "It's weird. It just won't be the same."

Former Ravenna tackle Ken Long attended the game with Ann Polichene, wife of the late Coach .

Polichene knew those bleachers very well, attending every Friday while her husband coached.

"This is a special place for me," she said.

Long, who went on to play for the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos, hasn't been to a game for 20 years.

"I wanted to be here for the last game," Long said. "I may not make it back for another for 20 years."

The game against the Stow Bulldogs ended with the marching band play the alma mater. Fans were invited to come onto the field to sing.

"Some residents have experienced interest in purchasing (Gilcrest) stadium seats," Warner said. "We are not looking at this as a money-making opportunity, but to honor requests and to connect Gilcrest's history with the new complex."

Warner said he is pleased with the results of personal seat licenses fund-raising for the new stadium.

"In a very short amount of time, we have raised more than $50,000 in seats," Warner said.

The Ravenna Board of Education is selling seats in the new stadium in pairs. Seats between the 40-yard lines are $1,500 and seats anywhere else for $1,000.

With or without a new stadium, Warner said, this is Gilcrest's last game.

"At this point, not having a stadium is not an option," he said. "However, if unforeseen circumstances arise, we have made contacts with Kent State University to host football games. We will have a playing site available in that event."

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.