Thursday, March 26, 2009

A fence for Hackley Field

Today we feature a little history on historic Hackley Field - Home of the Muskegon Big Reds since 1907. Of course, they weren't yet known as the "Big Reds" during those early years. The nickname would come later.

The field itself was yet another donation given by the city's greatest benefactor, Charles Hackley. Purchased, then donated to the Board of Education in 1902. Hackley expressed his wishes that the property be used for an athletic field and playground for use by the school.

It took four years before the property was cleared of trees. An early design featured a football field of only 50 yards, with four tennis courts placed in each corner of the property. However in 1906, Muskegon hired a new director of the Hackley gymnasium. Noting that the football field, as designed would be approximately half regulation size, the new director, Bob Zuppke, who would also serve as the football and track coach presented a design that featured a full-size field with three tennis courts located at one end of the property. The layout also included a 1/5 mile cinder track that would circle the field, and a grandstand and dressing room complex on one side of the field. The center of the gridiron would also support a baseball diamond. Zuppke would later go on to fame at the University of Illinois, leading the Illini to four national football titles and coaching Illini greats like Red Grange and George Halas.

The school board accepted Zuppke's drawings. While the tennis courts and dressing rooms were never built, spectator stands were constructed on the site and the facility was ready for it's first year of use in the fall of 1907.

The site has seen many other additions and alterations over the years. One feature removed in the 1940s was a handsome brick fence that surrounded the property.

Check out this article from the June 13, 1911 Muskegon Daily Chronicle, as well as this drawing from the July 10, 1911 edition (Click on the images for an enlarged version.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Change a Life - Invest in High School Athletics

Giving Back.

Is there any greater feeling in life?

The Mission of the Muskegon Big Red Athletic Foundation is a simple one - to raise money and awareness of the athletic programs at Muskegon High School. It is an outlet meant to provide the "little things" that are missing in these days of budget cuts and tight purse strings.

We are a helping hand, designed to help carry on the rich tradition of MHS athletics.

Organized in 1980 by a group of dedicated Big Reds as a 501c3 charitable organization, donations to the foundation are tax deductible. Built to complement and supplement the programs of the athletic department, the foundation works to meet the financial needs of Muskegon student athletes and the district's coaches across all sports.

Money comes from fund raisers, activities and donations from parents alumni and fans of Muskegon High School and the school's athletic teams.

Past and continuing activities include: an annual golf scramble; parking at Hackley Stadium; casino nights; pizza fundraisers; souvenir and sports apparel sales. Thanks to public support over the years, the foundation continues to sponsor the High School's annual fall and winter sports awards banquets hosted in the high school cafeteria and provides funding for the school's annual spring sports award banquets.

At the end of the school year, the Foundation awards $500 annual scholarships to recipients of the Clayton Beach and C.W. Marsh Athletic Cups, given annually the Muskegon High School's male and female athletes of the year.

In addition, the organization has provided a host of "extras" - some large and some small -the athletic budget could not afford. These include:
  • A multi-passenger van to transport Big Red athletes
  • A refurbished press box at Hackley Stadium.
  • New scoreboard at Hackley Stadium in honor of the late Carol Potter, wife of former coach and athletic director, Harry Potter. Carol was a founding member of the Foundation.
  • A lighted sign for Hackley Stadium honoring state championship football teams.
  • Funding for photo displays and championship banners that line the walls of the concourse at Redmond-Potter Gymnasium
  • The addition of a concession stand at the Redmond-Potter complex.
  • Funding for the book, "100 Years of Muskegon Big Red Football"
  • State championship and OK Conference banners displayed in the gymnasium.
  • Warm-up suits for the tennis and cross country teams.
  • Track uniforms for Steele Middle School.
  • Uniforms for the Competitive Cheer and Girls Track teams at the High School.
  • Parka's for the swim team.
  • Shirts and ties for the basketball team.
  • A scoreboard for the soccer field at Nelson school.
  • Funding for road trips for Big Red football, volleyball and track
  • Flagpoles and flags for Nelson and Steele.
  • Training and educational sessions for coaches, managers and student athletes.
  • Equipment and training gear for use by district teams.
Numerous individuals have been instrumental in the success of the organization over the years. It includes numerous alumni, administrators, friends of Muskegon athletics, as well as their husbands and wives. The list includes, but is certainly not limited to past and present board members: Carol Potter, Brad Hart, Bob Page, Gar Fredricks, Ray Carlson, Anne Moore, Bob Ludwig, Eilene and Charles Nelson, Barb Wenk, James Cronan, Bob Hill, Duane VandenHeuvel, Don Fairfield, Tootie Rodgerson, Kim Stegall, Julie and Matt Kisosondi, Lynn Giles, Brad Young, T.L. Lowe, Charlie Taylor, Terri Clock, Ron Pesch as well as former Athletic Directors Tom McShannock, Larry Harp, Dave Heckaman and Steve Hoffman.

Recently, Christopher Ernvall (class of 1986) took over the reigns of the organization from departing president Giles. A mix of old and new leadership is carrying on the work of its founders.

As always, the public is invited to join us in support of our student/athletes in the Muskegon district. Watch this space for meeting times as well as for information on our efforts on behalf of Big Red, Bulldog and Lancer sports.

Athletic opportunities in the state continue to grow. The Michigan High School Athletic Association recognizes 28 sports activities. Currently, Muskegon High School sponsors teams for boys and girls in 23 of those sports, spanning 37 teams.

If you would like to make a donation of either time or money to the Big Red Athletic Foundation, please contact us.

Make checks payable to:

Muskegon Big Red Athletic Foundation

and sent to:
Muskegon High School
c/o Athletic Director

80 W. Southern Ave.

Muskegon, MI 49441

Phone: 231-720-2823