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They just can't stop cheering North's stadium

November 05, 2006|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - Standing outside the new Mike Callas Stadium at North Hagerstown High School, Rick Hill reflected on the past few days.

There was the stadium's formal dedication on Thursday, the unveiling of a bronze sculpture honoring the late Callas and the school's first varsity home football game Friday night, where emotions were so high, Hill said, "it was electric."

On Saturday, it was time for the community to see the stadium. As visitors toured the field and tried out the new seats, Hill, chairman of the stadium committee and president of the Athletic Boosters, joined in the public's enthusiasm.

"If Hollywood wanted to do a story about this place, especially over the last three days, they couldn't have scripted it any better," he said.

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Hill was joined by fellow committee members who answered questions and provided tours to people attending the open house.

"We've had a lot going on around here since Thursday," said Jim Brown, honorary chairman of the stadium committee. "But we didn't want to deny any person the opportunity to have a look around. So we decided to offer an open house."

Saturday's event attracted a wide range of visitors, including alumni and current students, Brown said.

"People have been very impressed," he said. "The stadium is so architecturally well-designed. But when it's dedicated to a person like Mike Callas, you want it to be outstanding."

Brown said that though Callas died while the stadium still was in the planning stages, "his name was a rallying point behind donations. He was still involved, even though he was no longer with us."

Among those visiting the stadium was Mike Smith, who recalled his years of playing football at North High.

"We had to go across town to play our games," Smith said. "It wasn't our school, and you kind of felt like the unwanted stepchild. It was like we never played a home game. This stadium will make such a big difference to kids playing football today."

Committee member Rick Toms called the stadium "a real dream come true."

"It's incredible what this place has already done in terms of morale and interest in athletics," he said.

Toms said the stadium also will be a nice moneymaker for the Booster Club.

"They'll be able to sell season tickets, parking passes - something they've never been able to do because the school never had its own facility," he said.

Toms said it was hard to believe that the stadium finally is a reality.

"And it's everything we hoped for," he said. "It's spectacular, fantastic, unbelievable."

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