New turf football field project well underway at HCC

24 July 2018

The future continues to look bright at Highland Community College as the College continues to move forward, providing opportunities for growth and development.

The latest growth at Highland comes with the embarking on a pair of major transformational projects for athletics with a new turf football field and separate resurfaced track with soccer field.

Hoping to enhance the presence of the school and the athletics programs the College set forth with a plan and raising money through donations and other ways to bring the football field and track project to life. Helping lead the charge for donations was a $250,000 gift from Mack Porter, who along with his late wife Mary Helen Porter have been strong supporters of Highland over the years establishing a scholarship and more, while there has been overall great support for the project with $600,000 raised by our football alumni and friends.

Construction is currently underway on both projects with ATG sports as the contractor for the project. ATG Sports brings over 35 years of experience in the sports surfacing and stadium construction business to the project.

The new football field, located at the newly named Porter Family Stadium, will replace the natural surface at Kessinger field with a synthetic turf (RamTurf) football field will be laid down. The field will feature alternating field green and field green/lime mix colors rotating every five yards outside of the portion between each 45-yard line which will be solid field green and feature a 30-foot diameter Block H logo, navy in color with yellow and white trim. Each end zone will be navy in color and feature 15-foot yellow block letters with white trim with the west end zone saying "Highland" and the east end zone saying "Scotties." Also new goal posts will be constructed for the new turf playing surface.

Kessinger Field at Porter Family Stadium getting a facelift with new turf field being installedHighland head football coach, Aaron Arnold believes the new turf field will be huge for the Scottie football program.

"The turf project is important for several reasons. One is recruiting. Recruits want to and expect to play on turf at the college level and this makes us much more competitive in recruiting," Arnold said. "This project makes us one of the only JUCO's in the country with a completely dedicated football facility. The second piece is that we are so much more efficient in our ability to practice. The turf helps reduce some of the stresses of dealing with the weather in Northeast Kansas. That's probably the most exciting part to me. Lastly is that it will make our campus look beautiful and I think when visitors come to campus it will make a great statement."

Not only will the playing surface be new at Kessinger field but the football stadium will now feature a LED video scoreboard on the northwest portion of the field. The video display scoreboard will be a Daktronics video board one of the leading companies in the business as they provide video scoreboards for over 75% of the teams in the main four Leagues – MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL. The scoreboard will be 31.5 foot high by 32 foot wide in its full size, while the full video display will be 16 by 28.

The track project will feature an eight-lane 400 meter collegiate track with a straightaway and much more such as a javelin runway, steeple chase pit, throwing pits, four sand pits and two pole vault slabs. Also, inside the track a full college sized soccer field will be constructed.

Scottie Men's and Women's cross country and track and field head coach, Chad Clevenger believes the new track will impact his program in a big way.

"I already feel the energy level increasing talking to potential students and our current students," he said. "We have already put a bid in to host the 2021 NJCAA Region VI track and field championships and our vision includes hosting other championship events as well. This project will have a great impact on the program, and community; I feel our students will love the new track, and each day the construction puts work in on the track, the excitement increases. It's having a huge impact on me and renewing an energy in me. That will impact our students in a major way this fall and beyond."

He also stated how the project helps the program in recruiting.

"With the current indoor track on campus, this new track will add to the great facilities we have for our program," he said. "Having a home facility in our sport is so huge, and this will make us one of the premier programs facility wise in the NJCAA. Recruiting wise, I feel campus is going to add another "WOW" factor."

Kessinger Field at Porter Family Stadium getting a facelift with new turf field being installed

The new track surface allows the Highland community track teams, to host home/championship track meets. New turf will enable all our sports teams, and local teams, to utilize the field more often and in all weather. The football field is set to be ready for the 2018 season opener on Aug. 25 versus Fort Scott, while the track will set to be finished during the fall semester.

While the project will be highly beneficial to both the football and track and field programs both the College President, David Reist and Athletic Director, Tyler Nordman know that the project will be great for the College overall and the community of Highland.

"A project like this not only helps the individual program it was built for, but the entire campus community. All sports and students at Highland will benefit from the two new facilities whether it is the ability to utilize it for certain workouts or training programs but also with intramural sports, and other activities that the student body can have access to," conveyed Nordman, who also talked about the importance of getting a project like this done for Highland, "Just being able to stay competitive within the conference. In this day and age it is all about what can we do or offer that gives us that edge. New big and bright facilities look great to new recruits as well as our fans. We haven't had a major athletic construction project at Highland Community College in quite some time so I am very excited we were able to get this thing going."

Reist said a small community with a junior high, high school, and community college, all with athletic programs, should take advantage of sharing resources whenever possible, including athletic fields.

"The new facilities give the community a sense of accomplishment of the good things we can do in a small town/college environment," said Reist. "League, Conference, and Regional track meets will bring a host of schools to our town. Those events showcase our town and College. High school students who travel to our College may not have had a chance to visit our campus otherwise. Those extra exposures to students could aid in recruitment of Kansas students, who might have overlooked us."

These two major renovation projects will greatly enhance Highland athletics making programs more recruitable and giving teams the best facilities to work with to compete at a high level and represent the Scotties. Highland Community College hopes the additions and renovations will serve as more motivation for great support for the College and leading to continued growth and develop.