Sunday, September 18, 2011

Greig Field captures small-school essence

There are a lot of stadiums in our area that have the newest everything, from technology to turf to the product the host school puts on the field.

But it doesn't hurt to go to the grassroots in a sense and be reminded of the essence of small-school high school football. If you ever want such an experience, Fairport is the place to go.

Full disclosure: Personally, Fairport Harbor will always be special to me, having been where my ancestors originally arrived in America just before the turn of the 20th century before eventually settling just a few miles south in Painesville.

Back to the professional sense, I enjoy that reminder of the stadiums built into the town, where that small-school pride is on display. Greig Field, at which Fairport plays, fits into that perfectly.

Last year, Greig Field was honored as one of 76 Fields of Excellence in the United States.

The stadium is located in a valley next door to the high school, with trees lining the corners. The press box, perched off the school, sits almost literally over the field. The stadium is so firmly entrenched into the community that it's possible to kick a field goal or an extra point into someone's backyard on one end and into the street on another. The home fans, for the most part, leave their homes, walk down the street and put their money down for a ticket to watch their team play.

To me, that's pretty cool.

With no disrespect meant or implied to anyone else, they don't go two-deep on the sideline. There's not anything necessarily fancy in the playbook. They just line up with what they have and play, for themselves and for the pride of their community.

In a sense, so does their stadium. It's old school and part of what makes area high school football so unique. And it's good to be reminded of that every so often.

- Chris Lillstrung


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