It has been a long time coming and possible only through the tireless efforts and generosity of many but, finally, on Saturday, Oct. 4, the new state-of-the-art Urbana High School (UHS) Legacy Field was dedicated.
A crowd of more than 200 students, families and friends braved the first blustery evening of fall to walk on the new artificial turf field and then celebrate the monumental achievement.
The ceremony started with the national anthem, sung by Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen 2014, Sarah Robinson, who is also a junior and a cheerleader at UHS. Urbana’s Athletic Director Ryan Hines welcomed the crowd, and proudly spoke of the school, the field and the many supporters who helped make the event happen.
“As Urbana High School closes on its 20th year, we want to recognize all of those who have left their mark on this place … and at the same time encourage those who will enjoy this wonderful gift,” Hines said. “We want you to write your story … and carry on what your predecessors have written before you. What better way to encompass all of that than with Legacy Field?”
UHS Principal Jay Berno spoke of his experiences at the school before introducing Athletic Booster President Tim Mellott. “I am beyond proud to work with such great people, who have strong core values, who work together and work hard,” Berno said. “This really is One Team, One Urbana,” he added, referring to the school motto.
In introducing Mellott, Berno said, “There are not enough words to express how much effort this man has made for Urbana High School. His efforts match his promises and we are so fortunate to have him here.”
The entire project has been long and challenging — from its beginning in 2012, through negotiating with Frederick County and the Board of Education, on to soliciting donations and finally performing the actual physical work of clearing, preparing and building the field. There was also the new track to build, thanks to the Board of Education. Although Mellott spent the bulk of his speech giving credit and thanking the many people involved in the process, supporters credit Mellott’s leadership and direction with the project’s success as well.
Mellott first thanked God for the opportunity, his wife, Beth Ann, for her patience and then his mother, Donna, who passed away in May. “Her diagnosis, treatment and passing paralleled the building of the field in the last two years,” Mellott said. “She taught me the perseverance and attitude to never give up, which I most needed through this project.” He also thanked his step-father, Bill Wyland, who he considers “father,” for his support. Wyland came up from Jacksonville, Fl. for the dedication.
Mellott then proceeded to thank the many others involved in bringing Legacy Field to Urbana. He mentioned former UHS Athletic Booster presidents Alex Utt and Joe Gatewood, and his current Boosters team, Kelly Taylor, Gatewood, Paul Hynes, Verna Hines and Margaret McNeil. He added, “Thanks to the best high school leadership in the state: Principal Jay Berno, Assistant Principal Mike Chavez and Athletic Director Ryan Hines. Without their wisdom, courage and teamwork, we would not be here tonight.”
Some of the contractors involved with Legacy Field include Jim McKeever and his company, Jemco Inc., Josh Nicodemus and his company, Bush Creek Tree Service, Field Turf Revolution and King Sports. Frederick County Public Schools worked with the Boosters to install a new surface at the same time the field was built. Mellott also expressed his thanks to Board of Education member Brad Young, who attended the ceremony.
The new field cost approximately $900,000, a sum collected through the generosity of 130 donors. “Your financial generosity will have impact on thousands of student athletes who will compete on this field for many years to come,” said Mellott.
Villages of Urbana developer Tom Natelli and his wife, Karen, were the largest financial donors. The couple received a standing ovation as Hines introduced them. “Tom Natelli has gone above and beyond to leave his legacy in our community,” he said.
Hines invited Natelli to dedicate the field. “Great communities are built on the backs of strong families,” Natelli said. “We are donating money, but your devotion, vision and energy is what made it all come together. Ladies and gentlemen, I officially dedicate this field as Legacy Field.” With that, dozens of blue, white and silver balloons were released by donors over the field.
“What makes this project so special is that it has been 100 percent grassroots,” Mellott explained. “Simply a vision shared over and over, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor and 130 people in our community believed in the vision, jumped in and here we are!”