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Skins to help fix high school fields

Roosevelt among first four area beneficiaries of new ongoing effort

(Published July 30, 2001)


Staff Writer

Spingarn Senior High School varsity football coach Steve Powell, left, and Roosevelt Senior High head coach Daryl Tilghman, right, chat with Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, second from right, and NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw before the start of a July 25 press conference at Spingarn during which Snyder announced the start of a “Fields of Tomorrow” program that will help pay for renovations to high school football fields in the Washington area.

The football field at Roosevelt Senior High School will be one of the first four to benefit from a new "Fields of Tomorrow" program announced July 25 by the Washington Redskins Leadership Council.

The program, aimed at helping upgrade high school football fields throughout the District and in Maryland and Virginia, will initially provide $500,000 over two years to selected schools.

The council said it will spend $40,000 to $60,000 at Roosevelt this fall to renovate and recondition the football field. Redskins Head Groundskeeper Don Follett will supervise the renovation projects.

The work at Roosevelt is expected to begin in November and will be completed in early summer of 2002.

The program grew out of an effort last fall in which several Redskins players and members of the team’s grounds crew helped overhaul the field at Spingarn Senior High School.

That effort leveled the field, planted new grass and repaired the field’s broken sprinkler system. The school also received a new scoreboard.

Another Leadership Council program provided funding and other support to paint and repair Spingarn’s stadium and the surrounding grounds.

During the July 25 announcement, held at Spingarn’s football field, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder also presented a riding mower — complete with Redskins insignia and banners — to help Spingarn continue to maintain its field.

The Redskins Leadership Council, a charitable organization that includes representatives from several area businesses, pledged $300,000 toward the $500,000 that the new program will spend in its initial two-year phase. The other $200,000 was pledged by the National Football League Youth Football Fund as a pilot project for all NFL teams.

In addition to renovating at least 10 fields in the next two years, the program will purchase scoreboards and other equipment directly related to field maintenance and improvement.

"We want to see the fields go from worst to first," said Gene Upshaw, a former Oakland Raiders player who now serves as executive director of the NFL Players Association.

"We all remember where we came from and we’re never going to forget it," Upshaw said, noting that some of today’s high school players will be the NFL’s players of tomorrow.

Snyder said the Redskins "would like to hear from any high school — public or private — that needs our help" through the new field renovation program.

In addition to helping at Roosevelt, the program’s first year will renovate football fields at Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School, Largo High School in suburban Maryland and Huguenot High School in Richmond.

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator