Sioux Falls, SD
The South Dakota High School Football season kicked off this past weekend. This year at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls players will have a little more room.
That's because the school district just finished building a brand-new $4.5 million locker room.
KELOLAND News gives you an inside look at that and some of the other improvements that have been made to the old stadium where there was once talk of demolishing the facility.
For years, football players used to touch a sign....
It hung in the old locker room at Howard Wood Field. It read, 'A winner never quits and a quitter never wins'.
They'd slap it before they'd head out onto the gridiron....as a reminder to never give up on something they believe in - including an old stadium.
Howard Wood is 60 years old this year, but looking around, you'd never know it.
"I think it's just a tremendous improvement," Sioux Falls Activities Director Mark Meile said.
Meile is talking about the new field house.
It's the third and final phase to a five-year plan to upgrade the old stadium.
The new field house is still in the same location as the old one, but this one has four locker rooms, a meeting room and two athletic training rooms that'll be shared by the teams - giving everyone more space.
In the past five years, the school district has spent $7 million upgrading the stadium, which was built in 1957 and named after longtime high school coach and teacher Howard Wood.
"I think he'd be very proud of this," Meile said.
Upgrades include new bleachers, a press box, track and turf.
"We got 13 years out of the first go round of turf and now we're on year three and hopefully get 10 or 11 more out of this," Meile said.
Back inside the field house, each locker room is equipped with a digital play clock so when players are waiting for the first game to end during a double header, they'll know how much time is left.
"With the stands being refurbished here a few years ago, new press box, the track redone, new football field, I think we can do a little bragging about it and I think we can run with anybody in the nation high school facility wise," Meile said.
So what's next for Howard Wood? Meile thinks the district should look at rebuilding and relocating the concession stands underneath the stadium seats.
"So the fans when they go down to the concession stands, they're not standing right in the middle of all the traffic, I think adding additional bathrooms and restrooms probably be next on the line," Meile said.
Even though district officials are looking toward the future, they can't forget about Howard Wood's past. That's why they kept the sign and proudly display it here on the wall as a way to bring the past into the future; the plays, the stories and the many lives this old stadium has touched, one hand at a time.
The first football game this year at Howard Wood is this coming Friday night.
© 2017 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.
Eye on KELOLAND