Opinion

Bob Mitchell: Wildcat Boosters dug the dirt

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Todayís Cassville High School Wildcat boosters might think they have a rough time of it with their assignments of frying burgers, popping corn, filling cups of various drinks and the like, but these duties are really nothing to compared with some of the chores associated with the early days of the organization.

Right now, the organization is less than 50 years old, as it exists today. There could have been an earlier organization that existed virtually in name only, but the one that really went to work for Wildcat teams was formed by Don Carr and myself in about 1978, the year Mike Carr was a senior, and All-State tackle for the Wildcats. There were not all that many honors for the football Wildcats, most of their glory came on the hardwoods in basketball.

That didnít stop those interested in the programs from treating the teams at each opportunity, whether the administration or coaching staff agreed or not. At time there was some jealous feelings between athletic and other programs in the school.

Digging the holes

When it became time to build a new football field, which was the second one for the old consolidated district, there wasnít the digging equipment available that there is today. Rather than pay for the digging of holes for large light standards, the school turned to the Boosters for a problem solution.

It didnít take long to find some volunteers to take the role of moles and dig the 10-foot holes that had to have straight sides to properly support the poles. A pair of boosters, no longer on the scene, Homer Sommerville and Truman Baker took the task of one of the holes and conned me into some slight help.

Homer, owner of the Seventh Day Adventist hospital that has become Mercy, and Truman, a banker, had little experience in this business but struck out to achieve the task. It ended up my job was to operate the bucket to remove dirt from the project once it got to a certain level.

Another one of the light-pole holes was dug by the late John Haddock, a Cassville hardware businessman, and Glenn Truhitte, another banker. Thatís as far back as my memory will go.

Stadium seating

First seating on this stadium was costing higher than anticipated, so, again the Boosters were called in to assist.

Once the skeleton of the seating was in place, Boosters, armed with their wrenches and drills, were on the scene to bore holes and attach bolts and nuts to the lumber and attach them to the bleachers. This necessitated a pretty good ratchet, frequently from the top and bottom to accomplish this part of the project. The job was completed before the first game and a brand new field was available for three sports, football, baseball and track.

Few problems

Even though a great deal of the financing and physical labor on the project had been provided by the Boosters, a promise for community use was quickly forgotten by the board of education, which prompted a visit with the officials by the Boosters, and the Little League program was permitted use the field. In recent years, there has been a new field and a couple of bleacher sets and a concession stand built.

There never was any problem with field after this one decision, except Flat Creek. There were times during various seasons of the year that fog would roll into the area making vision somewhat difficult.

A favorite Little League story of mine was when a youngster that was playing right field called time-out, and with his little voice made the inquiry as to whether that was a right or left handed batter at the plate. Thatís an old one, but a favorite, since he wasnít proceeding with the game until he knew the proper place to play his position.

Todayís field

These days the often championship Wildcats play on one of the most modern fields in the Big Eight Conference. The stadium lighting is most likely the best of any in the Conference, and the field is always one of the best natural surfaces in the league, and after two state championships, the bleachers have been extended for larger crowds.

Even later an all-weather track was added to further modernize the facility.

In some of the more recent modernization projects, the Boosters have continued to be active in assisting.

Sad note

There was a time in the history of the boosters that all was not good news. A one-time booster, who is no longer living, provided a much needed Whirlpool for the athletic department. When things werenít going his way in, and he was departing the community, he loaded the equipment and took it with him.

Later came the field house and many other improvements, including indoor practice space.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State Universityís Regional Media Hall of Fame.

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